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Floods have played a major role in shaping the history and location of Fort Collins.
In 1864, a massive flood roared down the Poudre River, destroying the original Camp Collins military post located near present-day Laporte. The settlement was eventually rebuilt on higher ground near Old Town and renamed Fort Collins.
In July 1997, flash flooding occurred when 10-14 inches of rain fell over a 31-hour period. The flood resulted in five deaths and an estimated $200 million in damages. 1997 flood video
From Sept. 9-16, 2013, Colorado experienced one of its most extreme rainfall and flood episodes in recorded history. Certain locations in Fort Collins received up to 12 inches of rain, resulting in the largest flood event on the Poudre River in Fort Collins since 1930. Due in part to a comprehensive floodplain management program, minimal damage to structures occurred.
Flooding on Vine Drive in September 2013.
Flood Safety and Preparedness Tips
- Sign up for LETA911
- Keep updated on weather forecasts : a watch means conditions are in place for severe weather; a warning means severe weather, flooding, tornadoes, etc. are occurring or imminent
- Charge up portable electronic devices
- Don't risk driving through floodwaters
- Use caution when recreating, follow all recommended guidelines
- During high water, river banks easily erode and become unstable, stay away from banks
- Monitor trail closures and follow all trail closures signage and guidelines
- Be Red Cross Ready — get a kit, make a plan, be informed of weather concerns
- Know your flood risk
- Prepare a disaster supply kit
- Make a plan, designate a place where your family can rendezvous after an evacuation order is issued
- Move valuables to higher levels in your home or business
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio
- Consider purchasing flood insurance — only flood insurance covers floods
Protect the Floodplain...It Protects You
Flooding is a natural process. A healthy riparian ecosystem relies upon frequent inundations to survive and thrive. Along the Cache la Poudre River many riparian areas have been preserved, including Gustav Swanson Natural Area, Colorado State Environmental Learning Center, and Kingfisher Point Natural Area. In 2014, McMurray Natural Area underwent a major restoration effort.
Floodplains help reduce flood damage by allowing water to spread over a large area. This reduces the speed of flood water and provides flood storage to reduce peak flows downstream. The City of Fort Collins owns a number of parcels along Spring Creek, Fossil Creek and the Cache la Poudre River, permanently preserving these areas as riparian open space and reducing the flood hazard.
View this video to learn about river restoration along the Poudre River and importance of the river ecosystem.