Leadership

Recovery in Colorado: Groups Move in as Floodwaters Retreat

By / Sep 18, 2013 U.S. Soldiers, Colorado National Guard airmen, and emergency responders fill sandbags in an effort to fend off floodwaters in Arvada, Colorado on Sunday. (photo by The National Guard/Flickr)

After a week of downpours and record flooding, rescue efforts continue and cleanup is underway in Colorado. Associations and CVBs are doing what they can to help.

Parts of northern Colorado are finally seeing some relief from the record-setting rainfall the pounded the area for nearly a week straight. Initial estimates by Colorado emergency management officials said nearly 19,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by flooding.

“Things look better today— he sun is coming out today,” Boulder Mayor Matthew Applebaum told USA Today on Monday. “But there is a huge amount of cleanup and repair that people will deal with for a long time. We still haven’t entirely gotten a handle” on the damage.

As the state begins the process of picking up and moving on from the devastating floods, associations and local convention and visitors bureaus are helping to ease the burden on local communities.

Oil and Gas Industry

Only New Mexico ranked higher than Colorado in 2012 in the number of acres on federal land that produce oil and gas—and area residents worried about the state of the wells within the flood zone. Tisha Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, assured the public that the wells were being handled properly.

“As flooding began on Wednesday night, wells were shut in and incident command centers were opened,” Schuller said in testimony before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday. “We have operations ranging from unaffected to sitting in standing water, to located in rushing water. Companies from the smallest to the largest operators are engaged in around-the-clock assessment, prevention, monitoring, and response. All impacted wells have been shut-in, which means the well has been closed off or shut and is not producing any oil and gas product of any kind.”

Insurance Advice

The average rainfall for the entire year in Colorado is 17 inches, according to the Colorado Climate Center, which might suggest that flood insurance is pointless. But in the past week, Southeast Boulder has seen more than 18.5 inches fall. Even though rainfall in those volumes is rare, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association took the opportunity to remind local residents about the importance of being prepared.

“This is a wake-up call that homeowners, renters, and businesses need to at least consider purchasing additional flood coverage,” RMIAA said in a statement. “Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S.”

Open for Business

Although Boulder and Denver didn’t see business slow substantially—a few hotels helped relocate displaced weddings in Boulder, and Visit Denver put a call out to offer any help where it was needed—the CVBs are looking ahead to what will happen when the flooding has subsided.

“The long-term media effects of the event linger,” said Mary Ann Mahoney, executive director at Boulder CVB. “You know people aren’t coming because they’re not here, your phone isn’t ringing, you’re not booking business, you’re not getting those reservations in. That’s what will impact us and is impacting us now.”

Boulder CVB is already working with their public relations team to get the message out that business can continue as usual. “It’ll be the positive message coming out of Colorado that, ‘Yes, we’re open,’” she said.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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