Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-15-2007   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Denver Metro Flooding Deaths

The Denver Post - Toddler, teen lost in torrent

Really sad story. 2yr old and teen missing and presumed dead after being swept away in floodwaters. Denver got pounded with a big thunderstorm.

The scary thing is that they both appeared to be in feeder canals or streams that ended up flashing. There are many miles of river, creek, and feeder canals that are basically concrete lined culverts. I guess it helps keep them in place vs. eroding, and provides some flood protection. The downside is that when they flash they become wall to wall water with little chance for escape if you are caught in them

I have seen flood control culverts in other cities, but Denver seems to have many bike and pedestrian paths along the "nice" waterways that put people in harms way when these streams flood.

I checked out the cherry creek gauge, and it basically went from a trickle to a raging torrent between the 15 minute guage updates. There are exits every 1/4 mile or so out of the culvert, but I could see how you could get caught off gaurd if you weren't paying attention.

Looking back on the peak flow data it looks like the south platte and cherry creek experience these peak flow floods frequently (every year or every other year). It made me wonder if there is some way that these culverts with paths and streams could be made safer.

A couple ideas could be:
-Flood warning lights linked to the automatic guages
-Raising paths above the "annual flood level". If the cherry creek path was a few feet higher it might be out of water for all but the most severe of flood events.
-Designing the culvers for "safer floods". As it is now, when the streams go out of their banks, they fill a rectangular concrete sluice which offers few to no eddies. Strategically placed embankments on the sides of the culverts could offer interruptions to channel wide flow and offer eddies to get out once flooded. Maybe not a big help, but it might impede the flow enough to prevent kids from getting washed all the way into the platte.

I know that common sense should take place and that people are responsible for their own actions, but I keep wondering if something could be done to make the situation less dangerous.

I guess it seems to be a preventable loss of life. Sad. It also seems that many metro folks have little concept of water safety and that many of our metro creekbeds become sluice ways with bridge strainers when flooding.

deepsouthpaddler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2007   #2
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
Your comments touch on concepts of low-impact development with respect to storm water runoff. A few good links:

DanOrion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2007   #3
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
I think there is more to the story. Water does not come up in 10 seconds. Or if there is an amazing downpour like last night and you are next to a creek, pay attention. How do you loose a stroller into moving water? We have to expect people to take some responsibility. We can't totally civilize nature.
basil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2007   #4
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062
10 seconds

"10 seconds". Nope last night it took all over ten minutes to turn from a trickle to raging flood. Last night we watched as the street infront of house turned into a river. I watched as a parked car started to drift and float away. (It only turned a little bit from the curb, but it was still impressive for a side street.

This is the wrong time to start pointing fingers and proving how much more you know about moving water and how little the victims knew. Over years of paddling we have come to respect, enjoy, and sometimes fear moving water. For others it's hypomtizing and none threatening. If you don't know the difference- it's hard to know what's dangerous. Either way be respectful.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
Don is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2007   #5
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
Yea, you have a point that other people don't understand the dangers of high water. But I don't think it takes a kayker to see that dropping your toodler into the S. Platte at 5000 cfs is a bad idea. And putting in flashing lights seems a bit much.

I'm not trying to be harsh, just realistic.
basil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2007   #6
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
The news updated the story, and it appeared to say that the mother sought refuge from the rain under a bridge along the south platte. The water rose and apparently she didn't try to get out before it was too late. Very sad.

Basil, I'm not suggesting that we civilize nature, I'm suggesting that there are potential improvements in already manmade structures that could save the lives of people who have little to no experience with moving water. I threw out some options. Maybe a warning light is a useless idea, but if the sidewalks were a couple feet higher perhaps this might not happen. Is it worth a 2 yr old's life to consider it? Also consider that children could be in these areas and perhaps won't have the sense or experience to know what to do.

I'm not talking about this lady only either. My main comment is that cherry creek and the south platte flood like this often enough that it is probably worth while to take a look at the public safety issues that arise.

Take cherry creek. If the bike path and all of the foot bridge crossings were several feet higher, they would be above all but the worst floods. As it stands when cherry creek floods, the concrete channel can become wall to wall water that could drown folks in a heartbeat.

There are several instances of revamping dams and water diversion structures after unaware swimmers have drowned in them. CRC tells the story about union chutes being an artifact of this. I don't really see this as that different.

I wish that common sense and personal responsibility would solve problems like this, but how long will it be before the next unsuspecting person who perhaps makes a mistake in judgement dies in a similar manner?

So it seems that denver has designed its high water flood culverts as dual purpose bike paths and pedestrian walkways. Its just a matter of time before this happens again. I thought this was a freak storm so I check the historical peak flows, and this happens fairly often.

Sorry for the rant. Just felt bad for those people and tried to think of a way to prevent this in the future.
deepsouthpaddler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2007   #7
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 31
check out new 4's website for more on this story. the area she was in is completely enclosed by a 10 foot vertical wall on river left next to the bike path for about 1000 feet downstream. she had no chance, i surveyed the area yesterday. we marked the highwater mark and it was probably 3 feet high over the bike path. i had the same questions about how this could happen before i saw the area, not anymore.
darren is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2007   #8
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Its been so long since it rained hard we have all forgotten what can happen. Respect the dead and get your ass to high ground if it starts raining hard. Be safe.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
gh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2007   #9
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
I also saw the picture in the Post. It does seem like a poorly designed bike path. The thing I noted is that upstream there is a 4' high wall to keep the water out of the bike path. Once that wall is toped by the water, I bet the bike path fills up with water quickly. If the creek rises 6" above the 4' level, you suddenly have 200+ cfs coming down the bike path. And if there is no way out for 1000' feet downstream, you are in a tough situation.

basil is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hotel Charlie- River of Doubt- Denver Premier Don Whitewater Kayaking 5 04-25-2007 05:39 PM
Death at Union Street wave in Denver cstork Whitewater Kayaking 26 09-07-2006 02:33 PM
Any reccomendations for short III-IV run near Denver? aseligson Whitewater Kayaking 21 06-23-2006 08:26 PM
Teton Gravity Research Denver & Boulder Shows! paddlebizzle Whitewater Kayaking 2 10-06-2005 12:15 PM
Kayak Polo in Denver Travis Whitewater Kayaking 0 12-08-2003 02:35 AM

» Classified Ads
NRS Whitewater Kayak...

posted by sunsurfsnow

Brand new, still has tag. Price is $20 less than retail and...

Fluid Flirt (med)

posted by dlanci

Medium Fluid Flirt. Bought brand new in 2007. Great river...

Dagger Mamba Creeker 8.1

posted by rjskibum

2014-Dagger Mamba Creeker 8.1 Purchased July 2014 from...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:54 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.