Many Audiophile readers don’t know that in 2010 I went through a major forest fire. More 6000 acres was burned and the fire stopped 150 yards from my house. After the fire we began preparing for the inevitable flood that would follow.
It took three years for the forces of nature to combine in a watery way, but on Monday, September 9, what will be known as the “Boulder Flood of 2013” began.
It started slowly, insidiously, with a light fog, and sprinkles -weather more appropriate for Seattle than Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t think much of it and life proceeded as normal. By Wednesday, after three days of continuous light to medium intensity rain, some thunderstorm cells moved through, increasing the rain to heavy at times. That evening it got bad.
I’m a radio base for the local Four Mile Volunteer Fire Department. I activated my radio around 7:00 PM and was on until 8:00 AM the next morning. Our canyon, like most canyons, has lots of radio dead zones where hand-held radios, called Pack-sets, don’t have the power to reach Command. As a Base I relay those calls and make sure that information gets from point A to point B. The radio traffic was intense at times, with firefighters monitoring stream levels and well-known flood points.
By morning it was amply clear that we had “a major flood event.” The Four Mile Creek, which is normally almost dry this time of year, and about six feet across at its widest had expanded into a river over 100 feet across in spots. All the bridges across the stream were impassable (all but the concrete bridges were GONE) and the road that ran beside the creek (and served as the primary thoroughfare into and out of the canyon) was blocked by multiple rockslides, mudslides, and undercut so badly in places that there was no road.
When I awoke on Thursday around noon after four hours sleep we still had power, but it finally went out around 10:30 Thursday evening when a tree leaned into a power line and took out a transformer. As of Saturday morning, Sept 14, we’re still without power, with no ETA for when it might be restored.
I have a generator, so that I can remain on the air with my radio. It also keeps the refrigerator going and supplies power for our water system. No Internet (except via my iPhone). Getting into town is a slow drive over muddy roads that takes three times longer than before the flood, but the house is fine. Our driveway, which has always been well rutted, now has some 1 foot deep gashes where the ruts used to be.
Given the level of devastation throughout the canyon, it’s safe to say that it will never be the same again. Some parts are so damaged that no one has been able to reach them to even survey the damage. One townsite called “Sunshine” which is at the very end of the canyon is so cut off that they will have to receive a helicopter drop of food and water because its going to take at least a week before they can even get out. It’s that bad.
As for audio, I’ve been listening to the sounds of my generator, which although loud, doesn’t completely drown out the sounds of the still-raging creek below me.
Normalcy is weeks, and in some places in the canyon, months away…