Colorado is experiencing unprecedented rainfall, the level of precipitation combined with recent fire burn scars, the geography that constitutes the foothill region, and proximity to densely populated areas, is causing serious problems across Boulder, Jefferson, Larimer, and El Paso Counties.
Update: The President has approved Federal Disaster Declarations for Boulder, Larimer, and El Paso counties.
If you can, tune in to the weather channel, they are and will continue to do their equivalent to election night coverage and while there's no Alexandra Steele, Jim Cantore and the rest of the team are doing a bang up job explaining why this is happening. If you think the weather channel is sensationalistic garbage then check out Joel Gratz at OpenSnow.com, he does a good job of explaining what's happening to cause this rare rain event as well.
At this point I would transition to what is being done in response, but I can't because as of 11pm Thursday night, it's still raining, there are still evacuation warnings, and the potential for this to get worse is very high given that it's supposed to continue to rain through Friday.
At this point emergency management is feverishly working to ensure that no more lives are lost while the beginnings of nonprofit and spontaneous response activities are taking place: Occupy has setup a Boulder response Facebook page and I imagine others will in the coming days, Twitter has exploded with hashtags: #COFlood, #COwx, #boulderflood, etc...and I anticipate the CO VOAD to initiate conference calls in the next 24 hours. The machine is starting up and even with my understanding that Colorado is a well prepared state, I still fear that the same challenges in nonprofit coordination will exist on the ground.
It is my hope that the Natural Hazard Center at UC Boulder, a prominent research facility, captures as much information about the progression of response from all angles and uses that information to help build inclusive frameworks for other cities to replicate moving forward. I'm not holding my breath, but I think it would be a great use of their resources and expertise.
We know that the spontaneous response is going to be huge, we know that Social Media and technology are going to play a prominent role, we know nationally responding organizations are going to deploy resources...it is my hope that Boulder and other impacted communities are preparing for that in the midst of everything else, so that when the water recedes: assessments can start, volunteers can be managed, infield activities can be coordinated in a safe and structured manner, and the progress of each impacted community can be tracked so that Long Term Recovery can be quick to start and quick to finish.
More to come, but in the meantime here are some twitter feeds and sites that have good info to follow:
Colorado OEM: @COEmergency
Larimer County: @LarimerCounty
Larimer County Sheriff: @LarimerSheriff
Boulder OEM: @BoulderEOM
CU-Boulder Police: @CUBoulderPolice
City of Longmont: @cityoflongmont
Platte Valley Fire Department @PVFPD
Hashtag: #COflood and #COwx
Boulder Specific: #Boulderflood
Event Tag: #WaldoFlood and #WaldoFloods is being used in some areas
Hang in there Colorado...