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  • Kanmani Venkateswaran

Building Resilience by Learning from Past Disasters

Given the severity of the recent floods in Boulder, current conversation at the city and county levels is centered on flood mitigation. However, Boulder is subject to multiple climate hazards, including droughts, winds, and severe snow storms[1]. This broad spectrum of hazards has always been addressed in disaster planning and continues to be discussed post-flood, particularly by those thinking about broader resiliency.

A recent and particularly severe disaster was the Fourmile Fire in 2010. Between September 6 and September 16, the fire burned 6,200 acres of land and destroyed 169 homes[2] in the foothills above the city. After the fire, disaster mitigation and recovery policies and processes, particularly the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, were reviewed by the Office of Emergency Management[3] (OEM). Floods were an important part of these discussions; loss of vegetation in a burn area greatly exacerbates the chances of erosion, landslide, and flash flooding in the event of heavy rains.

Above: Fourmile Fire in the Foothills of Boulder on September 2010. (Photo: Bo Insogna)

Following the Fourmile Fire, a group of mountain community leaders