Showing posts from September, 2013

Sharing the Experience of Disaster: Colorado Floods

We wake up four days later to both sun and more rain, 18,000 homes lost or damaged and more than 1,000 people unaccounted for. A number of communities are hearing from officials that with winter approaching, major road failures and other infrastructure may not be repaired for some time. 

Our hearts and minds go out to all those now beginning the difficult work of recovery--in this flood--and in the other disasters that occur in this nation and around the world every day. 

In the meantime, we will keep the systems running that we are so honored to provide to the American Red Cross, United Way Worldwide, FEMA, and many 2-1-1 call centers.  We build Community Operating Systems, and we understand community all the better when we need each other the most.

True Flash Floods...
From one of our staff, "I just came from my friend's apartment near 28th where I was helping her salvage some things. In this picture of the bathroom (complete with a bathtub brimming full of mud) you can clearly see how high the water level was.

Rupa said neighbors pounded on her door, telling her to get out, and water started to trickle in. It took her less than a minute to leash her dogs but the water had already become waist high and she couldn't open her door, so her neighbors had to rescue her. 

Then the fire department had to rescue my friend and all the neighbors (and dogs) off a second store balcony using a ladder truck.

Cut Down the Middle
The mayor of Jamestown, (who incidentally was one of our first instructors in the Agile/SCRUM methodology), offers this video update about the  town. Flooding rivers cut their own course, as they see fit, even if that means taking over what used to be main street.  

Click to see a short video of the damage.

Evacuating by Helicopter
Several of us worked at Cal-Wood some years ago. It's a beautiful property west of Boulder host to many retreats, environmental programs, and sixth grade education programs. Nearly 100 kids and adults were cut off by the flood. Parents were probably never so happy as seeing their little ones disembark off those Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters. (KDVR Photo)

Evacuating the Family
One of our staff found themselves cut off from power, phone, internet, and water.

Skipping the private details, his summary says it all, "We're safe, we evacuated, we had to leave the horses behind, we don't know what's next, but we feel lucky to be OK."  He took amazing photos and videos.  Such as this photo, of a river re-engineering the road bed.

Douglas Zimmerman

(Note, you can learn more from our disaster maps at, register or search for friends and relatives on Safe and Well, or download the Shelter View App, to get up to date information about currently open shelters.)

Colorado Flooding - How to Help

Today the status of "disaster area" came home.  Boulder and surrounding counties are federally declared disaster areas, impacted by days of heavy rain turned into flood waters.

Impact areas include in the foothills and plains around Boulder, parts of Denver, Longmont, Greeley, Lyons, Estes Park, Colorado Springs, and many other communities. If you would like to help, financial assistance is the most effective.  Here are some great links:

American Red Cross - Colorado

United Way - Colorado Foothills

Humane Society - Boulder Chapter

For helpful information, you can also go to a situational map the VisionLink staff launched this morning. You can find it at On this map you can find photos, real-time tweets, shelter locations, weather, road reports and more. Use the Options tab to control the data displayed on the map.

If you are looking to re-connect friends and family, use the Red Cross Safe & Well system, at

If you need to find shelters, download the Shelter View App at the App Store.

Allow me to thank the VisionLink staff.  Even as many of their homes were directly impacted by this disaster, our operations for the Red Cross, FEMA, United Ways, 2-1-1 call centers, Refugee and Elder Care programs and much more continued without interruption.

Douglas Zimmerman
Boulder, Colorado