COMMERCE CITY — It wasn’t the wall of water that devastated Boulder and other Front Range communities, but the massive rainfall last week spurred widespread flooding across the city, resulting in dozens of road closures and many homes being evacuated.
Most worrisome on Thursday, Sept. 12, was the broken dam at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which spilled water into the Irondale neighborhood. City officials with assistance from South Adams Fire and Northglenn Ambulance worked to shuttle people from their homes to a makeshift shelter at Adams City High School.
If not for an embankment between the refuge and the nearby railroad tracks, the mass of water — estimated about 20 feet deep — would have gushed forth rather than merely cresting over and into the neighborhood.
In the Fairfax Park area, the stormwater collected in the pond overflowed into the nearby mobile home park and the Xcel station off East 69th Avenue, according to police spokesman Christian Rasmussen.
Police and Red Cross estimate about 2,000 people left their homes under precautionary evacuation advisories, with about 150 going to the Adams City shelter.
As schools closed and businesses in the affected areas did their best to stay high and dry, residents did what they could. Some chose to kayak across their neighborhoods to examine the extent of the flooding. Horse owners scrambled to load their animals onto trailers and move them to safer areas.
The Douglas County Fairgrounds helped handle the sudden influx of displaced horses and other large animals from the Commerce City area.
The city caught a break overnight Friday, with flooding not significantly worsening despite the continued light rainfall. City buildings remained closed Friday after sending nonessential staff home early Thursday.
But the threat of flooding persisted in many neighborhoods across the city through the weekend, as storm systems continued to roll across the Front Range, dumping even more precipitation on Commerce City and neighboring cities where stopgap measures were already being tested and the ground already saturated by the earlier showers.
Do you have photos from the flood to share? Email them to email@example.com and we’ll share them on our website and possibly in an upcoming edition.