Flood damage, one week later

Probably not the smartest thing we’ve ever done… but aspiring intrepid reporter Emilie and I went exploring the west side of Boulder last Wednesday, scoping out the areas hardest hit by the flooding of September 12-15, 2013.

We headed west on Arapahoe, with the roadside silt getting thicker, and piles of wet furniture and torn up carpet in front yards seeming to grow more frequent as we approached the edge of the city, where the neighborhood ends and the foothills begin.

We found the office building at 100 Arapahoe completely by accident.  Emilie and I had hit a road block where Arapahoe turns and meets Canyon Boulevard – west of the city where it begins its climb into the foothills, Canyon was closed to all but emergency vehicles –  so we swung back around and explored a bit more of the end of Arapahoe.  “I wonder if this road is open…”, she said, as we turned onto a road with water still running down one side and debris piled up along the other.  The parking lot was eerily empty, although a few workers from Xcel were up in a bucket apparently fixing some power lines.

We crossed the parking lot to get a closer look at the debris sticking out of the mud – a ream of paper, bits of plastic, a book, an end table.  It was clear it had all been washed out of somewhere…

And then we saw the source.  Just above us, hidden by trees and a pile of massive boulders and dirt, was an orange colored building… split in two pieces, leaning at an impossibly precarious angle, spilling the contents of its rooms through broken windows.  And making tiny creaking, ticking sounds.  I don’t remember either of us speaking for a few minutes.

Split in two by raging flood waters - the worst of the worst damage in the city of Boulder.

Split in two by raging flood waters – the worst of the worst damage in the city of Boulder.

I’d actually seen the building before, in photos taken by my bosses/editors/professors extraordinaire Tom Yulsman and Michael Kodas a few days prior, but hadn’t realized that we were anywhere near it.  It was a terrifying, awesome (in the literal sense of the word) sight to behold.

Emilie and I are working on getting a few interviews to tell the story of this building, including with a woman who moved out of her office just a few weeks before the flood because of a “premonition” that something awful was about to happen… Watch this space.

For now, here is, I hope, a video that comes as close to the experience of stumbling upon this building as can be conveyed, without putting ourselves in any more danger than we probably already did.

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