Big Thompson Demolitions Start as Flood Recovery Continues

Demolition began last week on six heavily damaged homes in the Big Thompson River canyon, another impact of last September's epic flooding.

Larimer County officials determined that the homes were so precariously perched that they could topple into the river as waters rise with spring snowmelt.

If the houses should get into the river, they could cause serious secondary flooding and damage newly-repaired or replaced roads and bridges, a county official said.

A home damaged by last September's floods dangles above the Big Thompson River. Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan

Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan / The Coloradoan

A home damaged by last September's floods dangles above the Big Thompson River. Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan

Work was delayed on one of the houses because of the high volume of water already flowing, reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote in the The Coloradoan.

Crews planned to take down the first home, a circa-1912 cabin off W. U.S. Highway 34 — "but the rushing water thwarted their attempts and repeatedly ripped away some of their equipment. The plan had been to knock the cabin — already perched precipitously on the river bank — into the river, where a wire net would catch the debris. The debris would then be taken to a landfill."

Work at another site where a house was demolished but the undamaged garage was left standing went well, said Eric Fried, Larimer's chief  building official.

While much of the state untouched by the flooding has moved on, the recovery work continues in the most heavily impacted counties, Larimer, Weld and Boulder.

"We are very sensitive to how difficult it is for many people to deal with the continuing aftermath of the flood, and the loss of homes that in some cases have been in their family for generations," Fried said. "However, we do need to protect public safety by removing what have become dangerous buildings."

Many of the streams and rivers in the South Platte watershed were running high before snowmelt, as residual groundwater from the September floods worked its way into the damaged channels. New flooding is a concern if the runoff builds too rapidly.

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