Flooding Information and History

The Colorado front-range and metropolitan areas have experienced flooding in the past. Flood intensity is gauged by using terminology such as the 100-year storm event or the 50-year storm event. A 100-year storm event is one that has a 1/100th chance (1% chance) of occurring in any one year. A 10-year storm event has 1/10th chance (10% chance) of occurring in any one year.

Below are some examples of storm events and their measured occurrence:

  • On July 28, 1997, a flood hit Fort Collins, leaving a path of destruction. - this flood was gauged as over a 500-year storm event.
  • In June of 1989, merchants at Arvada Plaza on Ralston Road were flooded. - this flood was gauged as a 50-year storm event.
  • In 1976, a flood destroyed much of the Big Thompson River valley - this flood was gauged as a 1,000-year storm event.

Arvada has the following FEMA-identified 100-year floodplains: Big Dry Creek, Little Dry Creek, Leyden Creek, Ralston Creek, Van Bibber Creek and Clear Creek. These floodplains can be viewed by clicking on the link below. Even if a property is outside of these floodplains, flooding can still be possible from a localized drainage source, or a storm larger than the 100-year event. 

To protect your property from the consequences of flooding, flood insurance is highly recommended and covers all surface floods. Any walled and roofed structure can be covered, and separate coverage is available for the building's contents. Most standard property insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Anyone can purchase flood insurance whether you live in an identified floodplain or not.

Renters can purchase insurance for their belongings, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage.

Don't wait for the next flood to buy insurance - there is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance takes effect. Insurance agents sell policies under rules and rates set by the federal government.

The City joined the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1972 and has participated in the Community Rating System (CRS) since 1991. The NFIP and CRS provide flood protection through increased awareness of flood hazards and minimum floodplain development design standards. 

The CRS provides reduced flood insurance premiums to communities that exceed the minimum federal NFIP requirements. Arvada floodplain residents receive a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums as a result of Arvada's Floodplain Management Program. This places Arvada among the top 10% of participating communities nation-wide.

In case of a flood:

Do not walk through flowing water

Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Currents can be deceptive - six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there before you go through an area where the water is not flowing.

Do not drive through flooded areas

More people drown in their cars that anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers: the road or bridge may be washed out.

Stay away from power lines and electrical wires

The second leading cause of flood deaths is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to XCEL Energy (1-800-895-1999).

Have your electricity turned off

Some appliances, such as televisions, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.

Look out for animals, especially snakes

Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals. 

Look before you step

After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris, including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be slippery.

Be alert for gas leaks

Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.

Remember that carbon monoxide kills

Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for camping stoves. Charcoal fumes are especially deadly - cook with charcoal outdoors.

Clean everything that got wet

Flood waters can pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicine can be a health hazard. When in doubt, throw them out.

Take good care of yourself

Recovering from a flood is a long process. It is tough on both the body and the spirit. The effect a disaster has on you and your family may last a long time.

After a Flood

Call the insurance agent who sold you your flood insurance policy. List and photograph perishable items before disposing of them. Take photographs of the damage and keep records of repairs.

Do not visit disaster areas until authorized to do so. Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. The structural, electrical, plumbing, gas lines and water wells should all be inspected for safety before entering your home.

Tune into a battery-powered radio for advice and instructions on where to obtain medical care and where to get assistance for such necessities as housing, clothes, food and counseling for stress.