For a little while during the past 6 months, it felt like all I saw in my dreams was flood damage. Bridge scour. Washed out roads and river banks. Culverts filled to the brim with rock and sediment. Streams doubling or tripling in width. Wood debris everywhere. Propane tanks in the middle of the channel. These were not nightmares, but simply the result of looking at flood damage day after day!
You may have noticed that our last post was in early November and that we have had our longest absence since we started this blog. To say the least, our work as part of the flood response to the 2013 September Colorado Floods has overwhelmed us! We have had so much that we have wanted to write about but we just have not had the energy or the time.
On October 9th, I started work as a support hydraulic engineer at the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Incident Command Center (ICC) that was set up as a central hub for all of their flood response and recovery work. I was one of just many consultants pulled into this work including roadway (majority), structural, and environmental engineers as well as surveyors and admin support folks. For a month I was a part of the Team B shift – working the Friday through Monday shift helping start to look at flood damage sites and possible solutions. By November though, an office colleague and I were pulled into teams tasked with the permanent assessments of every flood damage site of CDOT’s. My colleague, 20 years my senior and the man who taught me pretty much everything I know in regard to geomorphology, got to be a part of the primary team looking at the huge damage in the mountain corridors of the Big Thompson (U.S. 34) and the South Fork of the St. Vrain River (SH 7) as well as other various sites. My team was to focus on Coal Creek Canyon (SH 72), Boulder Canyon (SH 119) and then move east looking at damage at various sites on the South Platte River and elsewhere.