Flood still dominates life in NoCo

Whether the focus is on the media, the meteorology, the median or the meeting room, the Great Flood of 2013 still seems to be Topic 1 in Northern Colorado – even six months after the deluge.

Channel flippers may have stumbled recently onto Trinity Broadcast Network’s KPJR Channel 38, where Weld County commissioners Barbara Kirkmeyer and Sean Conway were the guests of “Joy in Our Town” host Joyce Zounis, recalling the county’s response to the flood and its ongoing recovery efforts. Conway, featured in this issue’s “Newsmaker Q&A” on Page 11, also was able to work in some economic-development plugs for the county’s low mill levy and debt-free status. You can find the half-hour show on YouTube by searching for “Joy 197.”

On Wednesday, March 5, meanwhile, a startup company from Windsor got to show off its weather-data prowess during a multimedia presentation on the flood at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s OtterBox Digital Dome Theater. Meteorological engineering firm MetStat Inc., which specializes in detailed precipitation analysis and monitoring, became a client company of Fort Collins-based nonprofit technology incubator Rocky Mountain Innosphere a year ago. MetStat’s customers can use its rainfall information to make safe, cost-effective decisions about problems such as how to quantify the flood risk at nuclear power plants and dams, how to design flood retaining structures, and how to optimize storm water infrastructure. At the Museum of Discovery show, MetStat’s maps and statistics helped geologist Bob Raynolds and space scientist Ka Chun Yu from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science take the audience on a journey to examine flooding and extreme weather in Colorado and around the world.

Upstream in the foothills, travel to and from the resort town of Estes Park via U.S. Highways 34 or 36 has been a bit like running the Olympic slalom course at Sochi.  

Crews have been picking up debris left alongside U.S. 34 between Mall Road in Estes Park and the Dam Store west of Loveland. They were to make one more pass between Drake and Loveland on Friday, March 7. It’s the last free pickup of that type – and, no, they won’t pick up your garbage or items left along county or local roads.
On U.S. 36, crews have been blasting to remove fallen rocks from the middle of the road and shave away at the mountainsides to move the highway from five to 50 feet farther from the North St. Vrain River. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates that more than 200,000 cubic yards of material will be removed, recycled and used to stabilize the river channel and the embankment below the highway; each cubic yard is roughly equivalent to the capacity of your dishwasher. Residents and business owners who want to keep abreast of the progress of flood recovery can attend an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at the Rocky Mountain Park Inn Conference Center, 101 S. St. Vrain Ave., Estes Park.

About 25 resource stations will be staffed and ready to provide information. Public or nonprofit organizations with resources available for flood recovery are invited to attend. Call Suzanne Bassinger, county recovery manager, at 970-498-7148, to register to participate.

With mountain snowpack nearing 140 percent of normal, surely the potential threat posed by the spring runoff will be a topic of conversation. Weary residents surely have had enough of thousand-year floods for awhile.

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