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Boulder's Tech Workers Cope With Historic Flood 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-safe-out-there dept.
dcblogs writes "Boulder Co. was recently ranked first in nation for its 'high-tech start-up density,' for cities of its size by the Kauffman Foundation. The ranking is based on a ratio of start-ups to population. But the tech community has left its downtown offices, some of which are flooded and others under threat. Normally there are 70 people working in Gnip's office, but Chris Moody, the CEO, in response to request from the city to get traffic off roads, closed the office. In another part of downtown, TeamSnap's building was flooding, and Dave DuPont, its CEO, said his only commute option was 'by boat.' The city's decision to ask businesses to close was a sign 'that the worse might still be in front us,' said Moody."
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Boulder's Tech Workers Cope With Historic Flood

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  • Colleague there (Score:5, Informative)

    by war4peace (1628283) on Friday September 13, 2013 @12:24PM (#44842115)

    I have a colleague working there, in the Oracle Campus, he said it's pretty bad. Broken roads, flash floods, people being rescued in the nick of time and such.

    • I worked there all summer and have been keeping up with people as well. Our office is on Pearl and it's closed because the 36 and the 7 are too dangerous / closed as well. I have been getting a lot of pictures from friends in the area and it's pretty crazy. The nice thing is a lot of the work can be done from home, and most of the guys I worked with live outside of boulder since housing is so expensive.
      • by sribe (304414)

        The nice thing is a lot of the work can be done from home, and most of the guys I worked with live outside of boulder since housing is so expensive.

        Well, all 5 canyons to west of Boulder are closed because of washed-out roads. There's flooding in Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield, Erie, & Longmont to the east. Hell, even Aurora is flooded. I-25 closed to the Wyoming border. Parts of I-70 closed off and on. 93 closed from 64th to 128th...

        • The nice thing is a lot of the work can be done from home, and most of the guys I worked with live outside of boulder since housing is so expensive.

          Well, all 5 canyons to west of Boulder are closed because of washed-out roads. There's flooding in Lafayette, Louisville, Broomfield, Erie, & Longmont to the east. Hell, even Aurora is flooded. I-25 closed to the Wyoming border. Parts of I-70 closed off and on. 93 closed from 64th to 128th...

          What makes this "Biblical" flood something of more than local concern is that Boulder/Ft. Collins is the site of the WWV/WWVB radio clocks and transmitters. Since the Maryland facilities closed down, the only other US time standard radio transmitters are located in Honolulu. Atomic wristwatches everywhere are in peril!

      • by sribe (304414)

        Oh, and I forgot, Lyons completely cut off so badly that the National Guard had trouble getting in to evacuate residents... Jamestown & Eldorado Springs evacuated. And so on.

        • Re: Colleague there (Score:5, Informative)

          by pspahn (1175617) on Friday September 13, 2013 @02:37PM (#44843293)

          I was looking at USGS stream data last night and this morning. Colorado DOW [state.co.us]

          Boulder Creek (the river running through Boulder) is normally running at 50-100 CFS (ft.3/sec) at this time of year. Last night it was flowing at over 5400 CFS, and this morning when I looked it was still over 5000.

          For comparison's sake, that is about 30% more volume than is currently running down the Colorado River at the Utah state line.

          Other streams in the Front Range are at similar biblical levels. Last measurement on the Cache La Poudre were nearing 6000. Data simply shows "E" at the moment (value exceeds maximum). Big Thompson was around 5000, but also currently shows no current data.

          What we have right now are a handful of typically small streams that have transformed into Colorado River sized flows, all dumping into the same drainage system, the South Platte River.

          Folks in Nebraska might want to start sandbagging.

          • by sribe (304414)

            What we have right now are a handful of typically small streams that have transformed into Colorado River sized flows, all dumping into the same drainage system, the South Platte River.

            There's a stream at the bottom of the gulch here that is normally so small that "high" means it's a big long step over it. I can hear it from a 1/2 mile away right now. As I said in another post, we're basically at the top here, so this is just one of who knows how many hundreds, or thousands, of little high-country streams feed into the creeks further down-canyon...

    • Oracle? That explains it.

    • by rwyoder (759998)

      I have a colleague working there, in the Oracle Campus,...

      He has my deepest sympathies.

    • Boulder is a major disaster recovery site for multiple american corporations because it's supposed to be so safe.

      If we have something go bad in Lexington now, then something impressive could happen.

  • by Scorpinox (479613) on Friday September 13, 2013 @12:29PM (#44842151)

    I work in Boulder, but the Sheriff's office said that everyone should stay home today. A lot of the roads are perfectly fine, but empty because everyone is staying home. A few spots are really flooded and impassable though. As far as I know, my office isn't flooded, but we did put all our computers on our desks as a precaution. I'm sort of nervous because I forgot to push my code before I left, so I might have to redo some work if something happens to my computer.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Can't you get to the machine via VPN?

      Stay safe.

      • by Scorpinox (479613)

        I'm not set-up to work from home :-\ Usually just bring my laptop home, but didn't think a little rain on Wednesday evening was going to be any big deal, so left it at work. I'm pretty lucky though, a lot of people are having a really tough time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 13, 2013 @12:36PM (#44842229)

      You should have been using Hadoop and big tables and/or nosql as well as a more synergistically scalable green cloud solution. Your core incompetency has directly contributed to global warming and you now reap what you have sown as the cows come home to roost. Your check has come due and the consequences will never be the same.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      My parents' house was flooded a few months ago and they did the same thing for the kitchen appliances, just to be safe. Then the flood reached a height of 2m (~6.5 feet) [dailymail.co.uk]...

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      I work in Boulder, but the Sheriff's office said that everyone should stay home today. A lot of the roads are perfectly fine, but empty because everyone is staying home. A few spots are really flooded and impassable though.

      That sounds a lot like most midwest or northern cities and towns when they declare a winter weather emergency. Get a lot of snow in a short period of time, authorities ask people not to purposefully chance going out if they don't need to. It saves them having to drag someone out of a sn

    • I was around on my bicycle yesterday and today; the flooding didn't seem too bad west of Broadway, except for the creek path, but there's more low-lying buildings east of there. Nothing of note on the main CU campus. Although it appears that Boulder Creek was quite a bit higher late last evening than it was when I was there. Very high debris marks and silt all over, including through a lot of the downtown streets. Also a mudslide early this morning at the opening of the canyon.

      I have a number of pictu [nickersonm.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What they don't have is a good number of SUCCESSFUL startups. Most of them are gone within 2 years.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      What they don't have is a good number of SUCCESSFUL startups. Most of them are gone within 2 years.

      Well, I suppose they could just move over into the medical marijuana business, that seems to be a real growth sector of the economy there.

      :)

  • Not that bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by n0ano (148272) <n0ano@arrl.net> on Friday September 13, 2013 @12:43PM (#44842315) Homepage

    When did this story get written, the worst is pretty much past. At 11:30AM local time I'm looking at blue sky, the streams around Boulder crested last night, we're now in restoration mode (I'm lucky, my basement flooded out such that the hallway carpeting is soaked but there's no standing water, unlike my neighbors who share a wall with me and had about 2 inches of standing water throughout their basement).

    Things are bad but, at least in Boulder, they're not catastrophic. Some of the surrounding communities, especially up toward the mountains, got it worse, there are some serious evacuations going on up there, but Boulder is fine.

    • Re:Not that bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday September 13, 2013 @02:16PM (#44843149) Journal

      Video of water coming down the Big Thompson Canyon from Estes Park.

      Usually water is a trickle this time of year.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWGK4CiWxeM [youtube.com]

      Skip to the 7:00 mark to see what's left of the road.

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        From what we just heard on the 3pm news conference, the road is "completely decimated". The sherriff described a few sections where "there was some road remaining", but the rest of it was "completely washed out down to the bedrock".

        Twice in less than 40 years. I would not be surprised if they decided to simply NOT rebuild that road.

        • Decimated would probably be more appropriate if about 10% of the road was gone.

          I guess decimated is going to go the way of irregardless and loose.

          • Shut up. Decimated means several things. Just like lots of words.

            You can feel free to be pedantic that the road was actually halfimated. As in 17 of 34 miles were destroyed.

            • Whoa! No need to loose your cool man.

            • Look, synonyms are not just words that mean the same thing.

              There is a value in communicating precisely.

              By overusing decimate, you are destroying the ability to actually talk about killing or destroying a tenth and losing the historical context as well.

              Why not use "washed out" or "washed away" or even simply "destroyed"?

              I understand that words drift and people come up with novel ways of using them.

              My original post was polite and not and attack- merely a comment. I guess it pushed one of your buttons. Sorry

              • By overusing decimate, you are destroying the ability to actually talk about killing or destroying a tenth

                Too bad that's not what it actually means anymore.

                It changed in the 19th century. ie the 1800s.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Saying "the worst is pretty much past" is awfully short-sighted, especially when you're claiming sunny skies at 11:30 am as your evidence.

      Everyone around here knows that it is sunny in morning and thunderstorms brew in the afternoon. At this point, with how saturated everything is and the fact that there is more rain coming, you can't say for sure that the worst is past. Coloradoans need to remain aware of the situation, as additional localized downpours can still create flash-floods for the area.

    • by taj (32429)

      I'm not in Colorado now but I was there in the 70's when they had the Big Thompson flood which oddly enough was the 'other' 100 year flood that took almost 150 lives not 4. They are starting to have quit a few 100 year floods :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Thompson_River#Big_Thompson_Canyon_Flooding_of_1976 [wikipedia.org]

      Mountains are neat to visit but if you don't respect them, they can take you out in many ways. It's not Disney world.

      But the nature of the floods is much different than say the Mississippi or other

  • Local Resident (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bigbutt (65939) on Friday September 13, 2013 @12:46PM (#44842335) Homepage Journal

    I live and work in Boulder County (Longmont). The St. Vrain is a pretty minor stream that runs through the center of Longmont however yesterday it had jumped the banks and split the town in half. I work in the south side but live on the north side. While I rode my motorcycle to work yesterday morning, my manager essentially told me to catch a ride with a coworker to get home. We went way over on the east side of town to get over the river and back to my place.

    I've had a little water seepage at my place but I did learn that I had an outdoor sump pump that was keeping the basement mostly dry. A good thing.

    I did have to break down my computer gear and bring it up stairs so I could continue to access the 'net. I also evacuated half the room and used a wetvac to suck up the water (about 10 gallons since yesterday).

    There are a lot of people worse off than I am though and I'm hoping they get through it ok. I'm keeping up with friends and family via facebook (nyah) and working from home so keeping busy.

    It's going to take a bit to get things back to normal though. Lots of places are washed out or inaccessible (Lyons is just a few miles away from me and Estes Park is about 20 miles up in the mountains) and of course lots of road and bridge damage.

    Stay safe.

    [John]

    • by elistan (578864)
      Longmont resident here, too, but on the south side. I've read that due to the St Vrain to our north and Left Hand Creek to the south, we're essentially cut off from the rest of Colorado for the moment. It's actually sunny right now, but I've also read that dams in the mountains will be doing controlled releases to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure, so river levels on the flats will remain high for a while. In the meantime, my wife's offices in Boulder are shut down, but she can VPN in from home wit
      • by sribe (304414)

        Longmont resident here, too, but on the south side. I've read that due to the St Vrain to our north and Left Hand Creek to the south, we're essentially cut off from the rest of Colorado for the moment. It's actually sunny right now, but I've also read that dams in the mountains will be doing controlled releases to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure, so river levels on the flats will remain high for a while. In the meantime, my wife's offices in Boulder are shut down, but she can VPN in from home without issue today. Yesterday the access was more spotty - electricity didn't appear to be very reliable.

        I'm in Coal Creek Canyon, up at the top, on the lip of a gulch. So in terms of the flooding I'm comfortably "above it all", but we're all trapped up here. Hwy 72 east and west, Gross Dam Road, and Gap Road are all washed out, severely. I'm really curious to see how long it takes before there is any way to get out of here. As long as we have power, we're fine for a good long while...

        • by elistan (578864)
          Looks like your electricity and Internet are holding up. Got access to clean water and food? I just read a report that residents of Jamestown a bit north of you are being evacuated by air...
          • by sribe (304414)

            Looks like your electricity and Internet are holding up. Got access to clean water and food? I just read a report that residents of Jamestown a bit north of you are being evacuated by air...

            Yes, power, internet, water, food. If it weren't for watching the news (both TV & online), I'd literally have no idea that there's so much destruction and so many actual life-and-death emergencies in the area.

            Of course, if I tried to go anywhere today, I'd get clued in pretty quickly. What with the missing roads and all :-(

            It's a really bizarre feeling. I've been in some (minor) natural disasters before, but never surrounded by it while being untouched. (Well, OK, I do have some leaking windows, but tha

      • I live and work between the St. Vrain and Left Hand Creek and we'd been cut off pretty much as you say. I was turned away from my office near Oskar Blues by police this morning. The only way out of town from where I'm at was down the Diagonal, so I went to Boulder to pass the time. Boulder seemed like they had an even harder time of it with the Boulder Creek, but they were able to keep the town running as far as I could tell (the book store and coffee shops were open at least..). My comrades in Lyons had an
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Friday September 13, 2013 @01:27PM (#44842707)
    In keeping with Boulder's progressive nature I have filed a request for referendum at city hall that would make it illegal to direct, divert, absorb, or otherwise disrupt the natural flow of flood water through the city. Unfortunately this will mean homes and businesses will be flooded beyond repair but someone must represent Mother Nature's interests.
    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Did you see the guys from CU that redirected the flow with sandbags and plywood? The fire department told them to knock it off since they were increasing the speed of the flow and potentially destroying stuff that would be able to manage a more reduced flow.

      I guess these guys don't play D&D (10 dice fireball in a 10x10 dungeon corridor anyone? :) )

      [John]

    • In keeping with Boulder's progressive nature I have filed a request for referendum at city hall that would make it illegal to direct, divert, absorb, or otherwise disrupt the natural flow of flood water through the city. Unfortunately this will mean homes and businesses will be flooded beyond repair but someone must represent Mother Nature's interests.

      Yeah, it's called building where the river DOESN'T flood. Common sense is often bad for business, especially all those contractors ready for public dollars to build dams and sewers where they would not be needed except that some business decided that it's cheaper to build there.

      • by swillden (191260)

        Yeah, it's called building where the river DOESN'T flood.

        To be fair, they're calling this a 500-year event. Just up the road from my house (Firestone, CO), the St. Vrain river, normally about 10 feet wide and three feet deep, is a half mile wide and has risen a good 8 feet above its normal high water mark. I talked with a farmer whose family has been farming the same fields for over 100 years and their fields have never flooded, until yesterday. Their fields are five feet under water.

        So, yeah, not building on the regular flood plains is smart, but this is well

  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Friday September 13, 2013 @02:01PM (#44843029)
    The city must ask businesses to close because evidently putting your employees' lives in mortal danger isn't too big a risk when there's profit to be had!
    • by khallow (566160)
      Not everyone has bosses who live in the area. There's a difference between hearing that Colorado has some flooding (which is all that I had heard prior to reading this story) and hearing that there are currently a number of streams near or in Boulder with the flow rate of the Colorado river.
  • I used to live in the Goss/Grove area of Boulder and even taught at Boulder HS for a short time...I hope everyone is getting things sorted out...what a mess...

    to the point, IMHO a web software type 'startup' is probably the easiest of all industries to 'cope' with this kind of thing...that's why working in it is awesome...

    really for most 'web startups' you don't need offices at all, except to project an image

    not all startups are 'web' and floods are an IT and t-com nightmare...that's a given...

    my greater po

  • I'm in Utah and it has been another heavy rain day - which means all that weather is also on its way to Colorado. Look for constant rain on and off in that already hard hit area all day tomorrow. Luckily for Utah so far the flooding has been lighter. Some, but nothing catastrophic. I think the storms intensify as they head out over Colorado and the landmass underneath them gain elevation.
  • The situation in Boulder is worrisome. As someone who goes to CU Boulder, I can tell you watching entire foundational linings in construction zones be swept away by the flooding is a surreal experience.

    I often treat Boulder as a second hometown, and I can tell you I've often privately berated their "nuclear-free zone" policy: "oh yes, I'm sure the giant anti-nuclear forcefield channeling the powers of Mother Gaia will repel any maverick ICBMs that stray too close to Boulder county." Given the flooding and g

  • Fires, floods, land slides, gun controls, and marijuana legalization. What's next, a swarm of locust?[*] Unfortunately I am sort of stuck here for personal reasons. To others I would just say, "Stay away and save yourselves! It's too late for me!".

    [*] There has to be a "Hitler Discovers" episode in there somewhere....

  • In case you are interested here are three stream guages in the area:

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?06752260 [usgs.gov]

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?06741510 [usgs.gov]

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?06730200 [usgs.gov]

    Note the log scale on the discharge. 1 m^3/sec = 35.31 cfs for people with a civilized unit of measurement system.

  • I work in south Longmont. Where I cross the Boulder Creek, it's usually 3 meters wide and so shallow the rocks on the bottom emerge from the surface of the water. When I was hauling out yesterday after our workplace got an evacuation notice, the creek was a kilometer wide, backed up against the bridge, which is probably 15 meters wide by two meters deep.
    Longmont spent eighteen months reworking the Lefthand Creek drainage, deepening it and tearing out all the trees beside it, through the middle of the city

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