Trash from Colorado’s 2013 Flood

In mid-September, the northern Front Range of Colorado (the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains) received more rain than it does in a year. The week of September 9, rain fell continuously for about five days, took a break on Saturday, and came back on Sunday. Continuous rainfall is unusual in Colorado—we’re used to sudden showers on summer afternoons and a little more constant rain in May, but not days and days of it. The total rainfall in September was somewhere between 15 and 20 inches; typical rainfall for that month is about 2 inches.

The floods caused by that rain still have not completely receded. At least eight people died. The damage to homes, roads, and bridges will take years to repair.

But another, less noted, result of the floods is the huge amount of trash they created. As basements and crawl spaces and garages filled up with muddy water and sewage, carpet, drywall, furnishings, and anything else stored in those rooms was destroyed or contaminated. This dumpster outside an apartment complex next to Boulder Creek gives you an idea of the problem. Boulder floods, dumpster, trashIn my south Boulder neighborhood, I saw temporary dumpsters in many driveways that were filled to capacity.

I’m not sure what happened to the TV in the picture. On July 1, 2013, a law banning electronics in Colorado landfills went into effect. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if in the chaos after the flood quite a few computers and appliances ended up in landfills.

Until October 5, Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials is taking flood-damaged electronics, appliances, scrap metal, and large durable plastics without charge. They ask that you rinse them off first.

Communities along the Front Range have been assessing the damage and are beginning to rebuild. They will need all kinds of restoration—of transportation routes, housing, other structures, vegetation, and businesses.

If you have been affected by the floods, you can find information at Congressman Jared Polis’s Colorado Flood Information page. You can also try Boulder Flood Relief or OccupyFortCollins, which is organizing relief for flood survivors in Milliken and nearby areas.