Part 2: Personal Interviews

Warning Evaluation Sheet


Warning Systems Evaluation

An evaluation of the detection and warning systems of the City and County of Boulder, and of the University of Colorado should result from analysis of data gathered for this section. Therefore, interviews should include people affected by each jurisdiction.

Part 1: Operation of detection and warning systems:

Boulder Creek Warning Systems

As of 1994, the City and County of Boulder have established a Multiple-Agency Coordinating System (MACS) to provide a framework for response to a potential flood situation in Boulder County. Participating agencies are: the Emergency Preparedness Office of the Boulder County Sheriff's Department, the University of Colorado Police Department, the Urban Drainage & Flood Control District, Colorado State Office of Emergency Management, the Colorado State Patrol, the Boulder County Health Department, the Louisville Police Department, and regional Red Cross representatives.

These agencies have worked together to develop an early warning system that uses data from stream and rain gauges placed throughout the Upper Boulder Creek watershed and technical information from the National Weather Service to predict potential flash floods. This data is transmitted to both the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (in Denver) and to the Boulder City and County emergency management operations center. The ALERT system software interprets the data, using parameters defined by local emergency officials, and generates automated warnings of varying degrees of severity according to these parameters. Within the City of Boulder, warning systems are in effect for residents in the Boulder Creek floodplain, but the eleven remaining tributaries within the City have no warning system in place.

Two levels of warning are used to indicate the severity of potential conditions: a flash flood watch means heavy rains may result in flooding, while a flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or is already occurring. These warnings are made public by radio and television announcements on local stations, by outdoor warning sirens and public address messages, and by police, fire and University Officials (including student residence managers).

Challenges faced by local emergency managers include the need to mobilize public safety personnel before the severity of the flood potential has been determined (if public response is to be timely), obstacles to the dissemination of warnings (such as siren audibility), the ability of affected residents to understand the warning message (broadcast clarity, non-English-speaking residents), and public awareness of how to respond after the warning is received.

(Sources: Kistner, 1988, p. 16; City of Boulder, 1990; University of Colorado Police)

City and County Systems:

Description of actual functioning:

How did this compare to what was anticipated?

University Systems:

Description of actual functioning:

How did this compare to what was anticipated?



Part 2: Personal Interviews: Warning / Response System Evaluation (seeevaluation sheet

Interview as many residents and workers in the floodplain at the time of the Flood as possible. Tape recording of personal accounts may be useful. This should be done as soon as possible while memories are still fresh. Use extreme sensitivity in case of delayed shock, mental trauma, and potential personal loss.

When writing your summary report, keep the following questions in mind (using the data collected above):

- What were people doing when the warning was issued?
- When was an evacuation order was given, and what were people doing at that time?
- What were people doing when the flood hit?
- Who were they with (group context)?
- What actions did they take to avoid the flood or reach a safe place? Why were specific actions taken (where did they learn to do what they did)?
- What percentage of the people interviewed were warned?
- What were the most common warning modes? Which seemed to be most effective?
- Did people respond more frequently to warnings by city officials, or by people they knew personally?
- Did people ignore warnings that were heard? Why?
- Why did people not hear warnings?
- How did the systems actually perform in comparison to anticipated effectiveness?


Warning evaluation

    Students conducting interviews should know whether or not warnings and/or evacuation orders were issued. The questions below can be refined to reflect that knowledge.

    Interview conducted by:

    Date and time of interview:

    Name of person being interviewed:


    Telephone number:

  1. Demographics:



    Marital status:


  2. What were you doing at (time) on (date) 19?? (When the flood hit?)

  3. Was anybody else with you at the time of the flood?

    If so, how many were there and what was your relationship to them (family, friends, co-workers)?

  4. Did you receive any type of warning that a flood was coming?

    If so, what type of warning?

    If not, why do you think you were not given a warning, or did not hear it?

    Who gave the warning (friend, family member, city official - fireman, police)?

  5. What actions (if any) did you take to avoid the flood, or reach a safe place?

    (e.g., take refuge, ride it out at current location, help others, were entrapped)

    Where did you learn that you should take the action(s) that you took?

    If you heard a warning and did NOT take any action, why not?