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
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)