DENVER (KDVR) — With flash flood warnings for the Denver metro and surrounding areas in the last two days, there’s concern damage could be done within burn scar areas.
Most of the metro area will dry out Wednesday, giving Coloradans some time to prepare for the next set of storms.
FOX31 spoke with Dr. Barb EchoHawk with Metro State University of Denver who provided some geological perspective about ways to protect property during flooding, especially in communities affected by a fire.
EchoHawk said we typically see floods in burn scar areas because of the lack of vegetation. The foliage taken out by fire actually causes the water to move quicker in areas where nature would’ve initially stood in the way.
One example of effective mitigation during the deadly Larimer County flood was green flood barrier bags. Those are offered by the county but are not sold individually. However, EchoHawk said that for any type of sand or straw barrier you use, the goal is the same.
“What you want to do is slow down the water. And also in the case of sandbags, kind of direct it, keep it away from, you know, whatever you’re trying to protect. But if you can slow down the water and take away its energy, you can get it to soak in wherever you’ve kind of confined it to. You can, in the case of sandbags for those barriers, redirect it away from the buildings — so it’s not ripping them up as it goes. So sand obviously is denser and heavier in size than water. So it’s resistant to the force of moving water, obviously, moving water has a lot of power. But because sand is denser it will, you know, help resist that flow,” EchoHawk said.
She also mentioned that it’s important to place sandbags and other barriers about 8 feet away from your home to redirect the water elsewhere. If they are placed too close to a house, the water could still do damage and if they’re too low, water could still rise over the top.
But it is not only burn scars that are at risk for severe flooding. Interstate70’s flooding the other day demonstrated that flooding can happen in cities too.
“Just by building a city, we’re really kind of doing the same thing that fire damage does because, like sidewalks and parking lots and all those things, they are water repellent too. So that’s why you tend to get flash flooding in cities like I-70 for example — because the water can’t soak in, so it all rises at the same time to wherever it’s channeled to, instead of you know, gradually getting there. So same sort of problem,” EchoHawk said.
EchoHawk recommends these tips to protect yourself before and even during a flood:
- landscape/vegetate to divert/absorb water
- regularly clean gutters
- use flood barrier bags
- evacuate if advised
- have a shelter/evacuation spot on higher ground
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