Out here in the dry creekbed, our notions of risk keep changing. The flood “forced us to look at the Platte River Valley, and challenged us to do something about it,” Mayor Tom Currigan observed. An equally significant development was the state legislature’s creation of the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District in 1969. Denver, CO 80211 A bond issue to create the Auraria campus narrowly passed, leading to contentious condemnation proceedings and the dispersal of a core of “displaced Aurarians” who still mourn the loss of their neighborhood. Unlike the bridges to the south, most of the viaducts survived the pounding. The great South Platte River flood of 1965 was not Littleton’s first flood, nor the city's only disaster – it was simply the biggest and costliest, to date.”. “On one day, the river gave back to Denver what Denver had been giving it for over a century,” he quips. Nobody could anticipate what was coming because there had been nothing like it around here for generations, and the past was not much studied in these parts. Actually, less than half of the area had been impacted by the flood, but many civic leaders were inclined to eradicate as much of the Bottoms as possible and start over. This flood remains the largest in Colorado history, and one of the most expensive in terms of the damage it caused throughout the state. What is clear is that after getting to high ground with the men from the Gaslight, they went back for more. The white men didn’t believe it. At Sixth Avenue and Platte River Drive, two large butane tanks ruptured under the assault; the explosion could be heard for miles. At Sixth Avenue and Platte River Drive, two large butane tanks ruptured, and the explosion could be heard for miles. UNIVERSITY OF DENVER COLLEGE Of LAW LIBRARY 1965 FLOOD DISASTERS IN COLORADO ,, (Cot~C1'a.o Legislative Council) ~,-. It was raining so hard that it was difficult to breathe when you stepped outside, like you were standing under a waterfall. The white men had traveled across the Great American Desert. Even more worrisome, perhaps, was all the hazardous material in its debris flow. It was biblical. Residents of Littleton and metropolitan Denver had little reason to anticipate a flood on Monday afternoon, June 16. The photo above shows the damage along Tucker Gulch in Golden. The 1965 flood produced rainfall as high as 15.5 inches southeast of Lamar. It was an open sewer flowing through an industrial wasteland, flanked by the city’s poorest neighborhoods — places like Globeville and Sun Valley, Lincoln Park and Valverde and Overland. Imagine two days of rain like the one that started it all in 1965, and we are there, like Noah, back in the flood again. Meanwhile, debris in the current smashed against Denver bridges like a battering ram. The gawkers were heedless of the downed lines, gas leaks and other dangers. What was once the city’s greatest eyesore is now its showcase. Accounts vary as to how many lives Fisher, Peachey and Bott saved that night. Shortly after midnight, the three of them launched into the murk. But curiously, little was done about the South Platte itself — even though several of its other tributaries were almost as unpredictable as Cherry Creek. Denver City. Just as predicted, the flood muscled into downtown Denver around eight. “It had a really quick response. In 1858 gold prospectors, suppliers, and speculators set up a series of encampments near the confluence of the South Platte and Cherry Creek. The waterways seemed placid, so the new arrivals gave little consideration to the floodplain.
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