A curve on Highway 34 in Big Thompson Canyon gives a glimpse of the devastation from the September 2013 flood.
With so much devastation in the wake of our historic 1,000 year flood event in September, there are still many closed roads, standing water, and Front Range canyons are shut off, isolating rural communities. Fortunately, I was able to fly with LightHawk pilot John Feagin on September 30 to see first hand the scale of the flood around Greeley and the lower Big Thompson Canyon west of Loveland. Two weeks later, and after the news organizations have moved on, Colorado has a very long way to go as we recover. These images support the Platte Basin Timelapse story of a river that matters far beyond our relatively small geographic area.
At the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon, the Big Thompson River washed away Highway 34 and historic Sylvan Dale Ranch. Sylvan Dale has already announced plans to rebuild.
A long stretch of Highway 34 in Big Thompson Canyon was completely demolished by floodwaters.
Over 1,900 oil wells in the South Platte Basin were shut down as floodwaters rose. There were at least eleven oil spills in the South Platte River, a critical freshwater source for the Ogallala Aquifer and Great Plains agriculture. Is it appropriate to drill in a floodplain?
This oil pad is still trapped in mud two weeks after the flood reached its peak. Ironically, the driver of the truck that’s stuck in mud up to its axles (lower left side) is standing with his hands on his hips.
A tipped-over oil tank that succumbed to floodwaters near Greeley, CO.
This feedlot near Greeley still has some standing water two weeks after the flood peaked, and certainly contributed agricultural waste to the South Platte River. As we assess damage, it’s important to question what industries are appropriate in a critical freshwater floodplain.