Boulder Creek rushes through downtown Boulder on Friday. [Photo: CPR/LMcClurg]
Boulder residents are scrambling to clean up the damage from extensive flooding.
People lined the sides of the bridge that crosses over Boulder Creek near downtown on Friday. They were taking pictures and videos of water that was almost touching the underside of the bridge. They looked awestruck. Tree branches were dipping into a chocolatey brown swirling mass of water.
"A lot of people were up two nights in a row trying to fight the water," said Sasha Fernandez.
She was sipping coffee on her friend’s porch just up the hill from the bridge. She and several others were taking a break from cleaning up. Their pants were rolled up, and their soggy boots were scattered at their feet. They had spent all night building makeshift walls to divert water. Fernandez said there was about a foot of water in the house's basement.
Boulder resident Nick Carter tiped his head back and concurred.
"It’s just kind of been non-stop," Carter said. "Mostly non-stop adrenaline trying to battle the water as it comes and try to redirect it from around the house."
The street in front of the home looked more like a river than a roadway. Carter said it was much worse at the height of the flow.
"There was cascading over some rocks in the front. There was just giant rapids like God’s wrath."
Across town, about a hundred people who experienced the brunt of the storm were taking refuge at the YMCA shelter.
Denny Armstrong evacuated his home between Nederland and Boulder Thursday night. He watched his home float by in a huge wash of water.
Mike Robins is also staying at the YMCA. He lives on site at a self storage facility he manages on Arapahoe Avenue and 55th street. He thought he was safe in his second story apartment, but he was wrong.
"It literally took about an hour and half before I could see my ground," he said. "Whitewater rapids rushed down through our entire facility. It was like a water park. You could have gone inner tubing down into the back and ended up in the railroad tracks."
Robins was marooned in his apartment until Boulder Fire and Rescue brought a boat to retrieve him, along with his four roommates and a toddler.
Robins hasn’t been able to get back to his house.
"Right now 55th is closed, so we can’t even get to my facility to get my car out or get the things we need," Robins said. "So, at this point I'm just like everybody else here. We’re in a holding pattern and trying to play the game and just keep swimming.”
Robins says it’s likely that everything is lost or damaged beyond repair at the storage facility.
The other evacuees at the shelter looked tired and ragged.
Andra Coberly works with the Red Cross at the shelter.
"Its just a really different feeling this morning," she said on Friday. "I think everyone was in shock a little bit yesterday, and today the reality is really setting in."
The reality is, the road back to normal will be long and hard.