KUNC's Colorado Edition: Five Years Later

Sep 14, 2018

On this week's Colorado Edition, we're doing something a little different. It's been five years since the September 2013 floods that brought devastation to many Colorado communities. We take a look back at what happened, and at how communities are recovering today.

Nine people died, thousands were displaced, and more than 1,800 homes were destroyed or damaged. Many are still dealing with flood recovery. There are thousands of stories that can be told, but in this episode, we'll bring you six.

One of the hardest hit areas in Boulder County was Jamestown, where one person died. Matt Bloom visited the community to see how the recovery is going.

Kiowa Road bridge was washed out by the Little Thompson in the 2013 floods; today, the bridge has been rebuilt.
Credit Kerry Grimes/Erin O'Toole

Thousands of people were left stranded by floodwaters - only to be rescued by helicopter. During the flooding five years ago, Erin O'Toole spoke with Pinewood Springs evacuee Kerry Grimes. She recently had the opportunity to reconnect with him and reflect on how things have changed - and stayed the same - since the floods.

The flood waters caused immense property damage along Colorado's northern Front Range and foothills. It also altered the course of several rivers and made fundamental changes to the landscape itself. Luke Runyon visited a few sites along the St. Vrain Creek to see how things have changed.

During the flood St. Vrain Creek jumped its banks near Sandstone Ranch and carved a new channel through spent gravel pits.
Credit Graphic: Ashley Jefcoat/KUNC, Images: Google Earth

When we started our reporting project, we asked for your memories of the flooding through the Curious Colorado webpage. We heard from several of you:

From Loran Smith: When you're evacuated for something like a flood, a lot of people turn to family and friends for shelter until they can return home. But what if you're brand new to the area? That's exactly what happened for Loran and his wife, who made a long trek to get to the Front Range - and they weren't quite ready to abandon their new home.

From Raymond Linda: Raymond worked at a construction site at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon when floodwaters blocked him from going to work. Instead, he turned his attention to helping families in Greeley and Evans whose lives were turned upside down.

Terra, the dog rescued by Michael S. during the 2013 floods.
Credit Courtesy of Michael S.

From Michael S.: When the rain started, he and his family were living in Loveland and didn't initially think anything of it. And while he didn't need to evacuate his family, they did find themselves gaining another member when he opened the door for someone in need.

From Ken Singer: We weren't able to include Ken's story in our podcast, but his dramatic retelling of the events of the 2013 floods is worth a listen. You can hear it below.

Our intro music is "Remember Me" by Colorado musician Kalatana. Our outro this week is "Reunion" by Jazzhar. Other music this week:

  • ROZKOL - "To The Water's Edge"
  • Doctor Turtle - "You're Right But I'm Me"
  • Junya Nishimura - "Fragile Rain"
  • Cellophane Sam - "Mountains"

This episode is hosted and produced by assistant news director Erin O'Toole and managing editor Brian Larson. Digital editor Ashley Jefcoat handled the web and produced the Curious Colorado vignettes. Additional production work was done by Karlie Huckels and news director Catherine Welch.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a weekly look at the top stories from our newsroom. It's available every Friday on our website, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever (RSS) you get your podcasts. You can hear it on the air every Sunday at 9 p.m. on KUNC.