Five of Colorado’s Worst Natural Disasters
In light of the devastation in Houston, TX., I became curious about what natural disasters we in Colorado have had to overcome.
Colorado isn’t known for devastating weather like hurricanes or tornadoes, but with the topography the state has, flooding seems to be an issue from time to time. And there have been some serious flood issues in the state.
On June 14th, 1965 the rain began to fall in what ended up as one of the worst natural disasters in the city’s history. Bridges were washed away and 21 lives were lost. In today’s money, the cleanup would have cost four billion dollars. Much of downtown Denver was under water, as well as the Auraria campus, which, because of the flood, was moved and revised to look much as it does today.
In 2002, this fire destroyed over 140,000 acres, consumed 133 homes and killed 6 people, 5 of which were fire fighters. The origin of the fire is still a mystery, however. One story has Terry Barton, a US Forest Service employee starting the blaze by burning a letter from her ex. The cost to combat the blaze exceeded 40 million dollars.
I remember this one, as I was living in Denver at the time. Huge hailstones fell and destroyed cars, windows homes, and businesses.Hailstones the size of baseballs were found and if you were one of the unlucky people who was riding the rides at Elitches, you can still remember the pain of those things hitting you. The storm was called the worst hailstorm in the county’s history.
At a time in history when residents were still moving about on horses or horse drawn vehicles, this storm literally shuts down the city. People refer to the blizzard of 83 as one of the worst. While the ’83 blizzard saw snowfall measuring in the 20-something inches, the storm of ’13 saw 46 inches fall. Residents cleared the snow in wagons and dumped in what is now Civic Center Park.
In 1976, flood waters raced through the Thompson Canyon, causing 35-million dollars in damages, that’s 140 million by today’s money standards. While the volume of water was less than other floods, the rain which caused it was one of the heaviest on record and flash flooding caused the overwhelming devastation. 144 people lost their lives to this.
While none of these can compare to the devastation being wrought in Houston, or other places like New Orleans during Katrina, these disasters in Colorado changed the people it affected and the state as well.