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.