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We are pleased to share our most recent publication Floods in Boulder: A Study of Resilience. The focus of this study is our hometown Boulder, Colorado. This case study provides concrete examples of what makes a city “resilient” through the analysis of built infrastructure, human systems, and legal and cultural norms. This study diagnoses why the county came through unscathed in some areas while encountering massive damages in others.

Selected findings of the case study include:

  • Built Infrastructure: Six of the seven roads into the mountains failed because they were all next to rivers; systems are not redundant if they have the same point of failure.

  • Human Systems: Lessons and response from previous disasters directly improved the flood response of the county.

  • Legal and cultural norms: The western culture of individuality gave staff the freedom to take independent action and innovate. This allowed systems to be operated effectively under a wider range of conditions than what they were initially designed for.

A recovery process should include county-wide understanding of what is needed to make Boulder County more resilient. Boulder County held up well to the floods in certain ways, but in others the floods exposed gaps in our disaster preparedness. This study looks at what made Boulder County resilient, and where we need to improve,” said Chris Allan, ISET-International Senior Research Associate and co-author of the report. “We hope the study will be of use in ongoing discussions across the county in bouncing forward, and for the City of Boulder in their resilience building process which starts this week with the kick off of the 100 Resilient Cities event.

About ISET-International

ISET-International was one of the original members of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), a program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation from 2008–present. Through our engagement with ACCCRN, we have developed and refined the Climate Resilience Framework (CRF), a systems-based approach to building resilience to climate change. The Boulder Flood’s case study was modeled off of our approach which has been piloted and tested in cities across Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Vietnam).

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