Flood Damages

Damage occurred simultaneously in several parts of the city. While Colorado State University was impacted by a large quanitity of runoff, a mobile home park, located between College Avenue and the Burlington Northern Railroad was being devastated flooding by Spring Creek.  This mobile home park was located directly downstream from a large detention basin on Spring Creek.  For a figure showing the location of different features within the Spring Creek watershed click here.

Probably the worse damage in the city was in the mobile home park. According to citizen testimonies, the water at the trailer parks reached a depth of five and a half feet in three minutes. CSU, (1997).  Mobile homes, three of which were on fire, floated downstream, becoming jammed under the College Avenue bridge. In this part of the city, five people unfortunately lost their lives.

Just minutes after the devastation of the mobile home park, water overtopping the Burlington Northern railroad embankment had undermined the rails.  This caused a Burlington Northern freight train to derail, sending four off the rails adjacent to the mobile home park. One of the cars in the train was loaded with highly-toxic liquid chlorine.  Fortunately, this car remained in the tracks, and its' contents were not released into the environment. (Fort Collins Coloradoan July 29,30, 1997).

Colorado State University suffered.  It was estimated that on the main campus approximately  $100 millions of dollars in damages were incurred. Floodwaters filled the area on campus known as the Lagoon, affecting several buildings. The lowest path for the water from the flooded Lagoon to escape was through the university bookstore, located in the lower level of the Lory Student Center.  Water gushed through the bookstore, carrying with it textbooks needed for the Fall Semester.  After exiting the student center, the water accumulated in the engineering parking lot, flooding several engineering buildings.

On the campus of Colorado State University, there were about 25 buildings severally damaged, one million books lost, and computer labs destroyed. Some of the university buildings damaged were:

Lory Student Center, Morgan Library, Eddy and Clark Buildings, Natural Resources, Engineering, Music, Rockwell Hall, Printing Service, Spruce Hall, Gibbons Building, Johnson Hall, Student Services, General Services, Forestry, Molecular and Radiological Biosciences, Gifford Hall, Aylesworth Hall NE, and Hartshorn University Health Service Building. CSU, (1997).

Once the water left the university, it crossed College Avenue (US Highway-287) and flooded businesses and residences.  Some of the flow reached old town, while the remainder re-joined Spring Creek.

On July 29, 1997, parts of the city were still in a state of emergency.  There were approximately 500 rescues during the flood.  High flood waters in low-lying areas promptly divided the city into "islands", and prevented emergency personnel from moving freely.

Many individual details of the flood damages, and personal experiences of those impacted by the damages can be read in the notes of the Fort Collins Flood Symposium, which was held on 7 November, 1997.


Interesting Links

Fort Collins, Damage information http://www.lovelandfyi.com/floodsat.html