Sep 8, 2023 - News

Lyons still remembering and recovering 10 years after historic Colorado floods

An aerial photograph shows the damage in Lyons from the flood on Sept. 13, 2013. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

An aerial photo shows flood damage in Lyons on Sept. 13. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The rain started 10 years ago this weekend — a torrent from the sky that continued for days, swelling into a biblical-level tide that destroyed a Colorado town, killed nine and left behind $4 billion in damage.

Why it matters: The anniversary of the 2013 floods is a moment to reflect for the hard-hit town of Lyons and the impacted communities downstream in Boulder and Larimer counties.

  • It's also a moment to realize that extreme weather fueled in part by climate change means it will happen again.

What they're saying: "It's not a question of will this happen and will we be ready or even when it does happen again. Will it not be as devastating?" Frank Lancaster, the Estes Park town administrator at the time and current trustee, recently told Newsline.

Flashback: The flood siren sounded in Lyons at 2am Sept. 12 as the rain intensified and eventually totaled 18 inches in Boulder County, pushing the St. Vrain Creek and other waterways that snaked through neighborhoods over their banks.

What's new: The flood changed Lyons, displacing longtime residents, eliminating affordable housing, and raising questions about the future of the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Hundreds of millions were spent to rebuild neighborhoods, transportation corridors and waterways, while other areas, particularly flood plains, were deemed too vulnerable.

What to watch: The threat isn't over. The latest warning about flooding came in June and additional mitigation projects are ongoing.

Go deeper: Revisit the flood in a Boulder County interactive … and attend a commemoration event


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