The town of Lyons is bouncing back from Colorado’s epic flood 6 years ago and looks like a vibrant, engaged community. But The flood still remains in people’s hearts and minds. Similar to 911, there is a little spot in our psyche that relates our lives, before and after the event.
Cathy Rivers, a Lyons resident and artist, is still processing the town’s collective experience in an up and coming art exhibit here in town.
Knowing Cathy’s exceptional artistic creativity and talent, this might be a great visit to see what she’s been up to in this exhibit should you be in the area.
Here’s an article in Lyons’ Redstone Review about the upcoming show. (Page 8)
Come on over and check it out, share your story too and marvel in how much healing can be found in shared experience, creative expression and the good old fashioned passing of time and moving forward.
The aftermath of this historic flood had Lyons divided into six separate islands, over 200 homes damaged or destroyed, no water, waste water, electric, gas or communication lines, and an initial cost-estimate of over $50 million in damages.
Authorities evacuated more than 18,000 people, the largest evacuation effort since Hurricane Katrina. Over 28,000 homes and commercial buildings were damaged with more than 1,800 destroyed. It is estimated the flooding damaged or destroyed almost 485 miles of roads, 150 mi of railroad tracks, 27 state dams and over 50 bridges.
Twenty-four counties were affected by the flood, 18 being declared a presidential disaster area within a few days of the event. The State’s initial assessment put flood-related damages at over $3.3 billion, including impacts to housing, infrastructure and economic sectors like agriculture and tourism.
Nine people lost their lives.
Sobering statistics, indeed.
Concerning timing, location and magnitude of heavy rainfall, the weather forecast models varied widely in their predictions and missed the mark. Encouragingly, the Short Range Ensemble Forecast or SREF model predicted up to 8 inches of rain, but it’s timing was early. Even so, the models identified an impending wetter than normal weather pattern more than a week in advance, allowing forecasters to take action that likely saved many lives.
The rains that occurred during the week of September 9th through the 16th, 2013 were different than what we typically see in Colorado. The event was caused by a block in the jet stream that held a low-pressure cell over the Great Basin and a highpressure cell over the Midwest stationary over the course of a week. These stationary circulations drew up moist, tropical air from both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, dumping rain over New Mexico and Colorado for days. This type of rain event is rare for Colorado, with an estimated 1,000-year recurrence interval measured in the Northern Front Range.
Unusual characteristics associated with the rain event that caused the 2013 flood triggered the rivers to behave differently than what is typically observed in Colorado floods, leading to massive erosion that reshaped and redirected stream channels and also catastrophic failure of debris dams that exacerbated peak discharges. Unlike previous known flash floods in Colorado where a river peak-stage depth can rise over a matter of minutes as in the Big Thompson Canyon flood in 1976, the 2013 flood caused creeks to rise more slowly, simultaneously and stay at peak levels for several hours. This behavior caused massive debris transport and damage, but also allowed for emergency responders to get people up and out of the way and save many lives. Although the rain event was rare, the flood event along the Saint Vrain River, though significant, was not as uncommon, with about a 500-year recurrence interval measured in Lyons. The peak flow of the Saint Vrain River in Lyons during the flood has been estimated at over 23,000 cfs (cubic feet per second): a flow-rate nearly 100 times its average of 250 cfs at this time of year (September).