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Hurricanes and tropical storms on the coasts tend to get countrywide airtime for their intensity and impact, but floods in the central part of the U.S. also cause significant damage and disruption. That is certainly true for the Front Range of Colorado. In 1864, a massive flood from the Poudre River destroyed the Camp Collins military post in LaPorte. In 1997, the Spring Creek flood caused $200M in damages and five deaths, when 10-14 inches of rain fell in a 31-hour period. Most recently, in September 2013, six days of historic levels of rain caused massive flooding in Northern Colorado's Front Range.
"Floodwater damaged and destroyed homes and businesses, mountain towns and transportation networks, ditches, dams and bridges, oil and gas drilling sites, farmland, and natural areas across seventeen counties. Eight people lost their lives. This was a hydro-geologic event, as heavy monsoonal rainfall over many days produced both devastating floods and perilous landslides. State and local officials have estimated the monetary cost of the flood to be over two billion dollars," notes Dr. Ruth Alexander, a professor in the history department and faculty researcher in the Public Lands History Center at CSU.
Do - Response - Flooding - Lot - Communication
What can a historian do in response to life-threatening flooding? Quite a lot it turns out. By documenting the communication, cooperation, and activity of natural disaster responders, historians capture the knowledge and information-sharing process that is so crucial to future response and recovery.
Less than a month after the flood, Alexander and Patricia Rettig, head of the Water Resources Archive at CSU, had a conference call with Kevin Houck, section chief of Watershed and Flood Protection at the Colorado Water Conservation Board, to discuss the goals and funding for a public history project. Houck expressed keen interest in capturing the insights of professionals in water management, search and rescue, and...
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