- Posted September 24, 2013 by
Disaster Diary From Boulder
- hhanks, CNN iReport producer
The first signs of damage at Earl's were some of the household contents laid out on the deck to dry in the sun. On the fateful day that the heaven dumped 14 inches of rain over Boulder in 24 hours, Earl and his wife watched the creek become a raging torrent. It tore his driveway bridge crossing down like it was paper, and then chiseled the asphalt access road to pieces. The large boulders carried in the torrent then smashed any standing object in their path. Houses, cars, fences, roads, driveways, parking lots and gas lines were demolished in minutes.
I had personally seen the torrent on the day when when it swept earth moving equipment away from its banks. Now a week later I got to walk through the path of destruction. For the next three hours we helped a stunned Earl, rip soggy carpet from the ground level of his house. His wife's precious harp (once played in a symphony orchestra) stood lonely in the middle of the living room floor surrounded by damp wet floors and muck.
His garage was under a few feet of mud, there was devastation throughout the floor that had been licked by the raging torrent, which by now was back to being a mid level stream. After our work, we hiked up what used to be the paved road to the trail head. Cars that escaped being swept away during the flood, stood like lone sentinels along remnants of the road. They would not be driven away for months, as there was no road left to drive on, just vast chasms and canyons of mud and debris.
Along our perilous path in and out of the new riverbed and former road we encountered some of the most extreme devastation I have ever witnessed. Houses that had collapsed, cars under houses, personal items like photo albums and skis, cars parts, and other debris littered the area. Perhaps the greatest devastation was to one of Boulder's finest hiking trails. The Anne White trail was obliterated and what had once been a narrow trail up a tight canyon was now a wide gorge and boulder field. The water had excavated it to the extent that it was barely recognizable.
It was a long tiring hike back to our four wheelers and yet again I was amazed by the power of water. I just kept shaking my head in disbelief. Around every bend was another scene of chaos and devastation.
The latest stats are:- 18,000 houses damaged or destroyed, some towns cut off for up to year before they can rebuild roads, and to date, $2 billion in damage and counting.