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  • Dr. Marcus Moench

Is Boulder Resilience - or Not?

OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN, OPPORTUNITIES TO TEACH, CHALLENGES TO RECOGNIZE

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation supported 100 Resilient Cities initiative, Boulder has just hired a “Chief Resilience Officer.” At the same time, as we approach the first anniversary of the September 2013 floods, discussions on resilience in the city and county are gaining momentum. As a result, it’s important to take stock of where we are.

Boulder is a resilient city. We are rapidly springing back from the flooding. During the floods neighborhoods pulled together to help each other and the city’s emergency response teams responded quickly to a situation both larger and different from any they had previously envisioned. Although most roads to the mountains washed out, we didn’t lose our water supply or wastewater system, power was only out for a few hours and communications systems continued to function. The bike-paths and parks along Boulder creek functioned as floodways. Their presence and the very limited loss of life reflected early visionary leadership on the part of individuals, such as Gilbert White, coupled with the efforts of the city and county administrations over decades to develop and implement plans, enforce codes, and purchase open-space. None of this could have been achieved in the absence of a supportive and engaged community. We’re resilient, or are we?