As the month of September comes to an end and flood waters recede, it is time in Boulder, Colorado to assess the condition of flood-damaged properties. What could come to be known by the next generation of Colorado children as the “Great Flood of 2013,” has taken its toll on a state that now must somehow put itself back together. As flood inspections begin in Boulder on Monday, the hopes of the town leaders is that they will be done quickly so that citizens can return safely to begin repairs.
Inspectors from the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council as well as those with the City of Boulder will begin their investigations with exterior structural and mechanical issues of each home and building. Properties in the conveyance zone and high-hazard zone of the area’s 100-year floodplain will be the first inspected, since this was the area hardest hit in Boulder by the flooding.
According to city spokesperson, Nick Grossman, the inspectors will be looking for, “Any potential safety threats, anything that indicates it’s unsafe to occupy.” Specific threats include structural integrity, broken gas lines, and electrical system problems. Grossman added that all necessary repairs made to buildings will have a follow-up inspection by the city.
The economic impact of flooding on the state of Colorado is expected to be more than $2 billion. The most populous counties in the state were ravaged by the continuous combination of heavy rains, mudslides, and flash flooding. In a catastrophic weather event that seemed like it would never end, it is estimated that 1,500 homes were destroyed and thousands more damaged by the rising waters.
As the rains came down, swollen creeks and mudslides erased roads and demolished bridges, leaving those outside of Boulder devastated. It is not known when inspections of those properties will begin. It is thought that over 10,000 people are now displaced from their homes.
Monday morning in Boulder inspectors will begin placing one of three colored placards on houses after their flood inspections. The green placard means the house is safe. Houses with yellow placards will be for “restricted use” only, meaning there will be limitations on how the house can be used. Information explaining why and how the use is limited will appear on the placard, and residents can expect a more detailed evaluation to take place before they can resume occupancy. The “unsafe” properties will be marked with a red placard. This does not mean the property will be condemned or demolished, but that it will need significant repairs to make it secure and until that time no one is safe to enter.
Owners can ask for a “2013 Flood Recovery, Restoration, Repair Permit,” for flood-damaged property. This is a free permit and will be required for plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems repairs. Other types of repairs will be exempt.
As residents in Boulder County’s most populous city awaken Monday, they will be faced with the reality of rebuilding as the flood inspections begin. Once they are able to return home, amid the shattered buildings and washed out streets, they’ll be searching for their homes and hoping to find the green placard that says it safe to go inside.
By: Lisa Nance