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Boulder Flood Update: Most outdoor businesses spared, but damage in mountains widespread

Beyond helping friends and family in need, the outdoor community will focus on rebuilding many trails and recreation areas.

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The outdoors are beautiful because Mother Nature rules. And sometimes, she rules with an iron fist.

A week of severe flooding in and around Boulder, Colo., the rain has stopped and the sun is out, giving local outdoor businesses and enthusiasts their first look at the changing landscape.

The area is home to brands like Kelty, Sierra Designs, Scarpa, Deuter, Bergans Norway and Sea-to-Summit, all of which told SNEWS they were fortunate to have been spared damage, although many employees were bailing out flooded basements at home, and a few were evacuated from their homes officials said.

Other local outdoor companies like Crescent Snowshoes and RecoFit Compression Gear experienced damage at home and work.

“[We are] alive and functioning, despite losing our office space and some inventory in the flooding,” RecoFit President Susie Eastman Walton posted on Facebook. “We feel lucky, as so many lost so much than us.”

At Crescent Snowshoes, some flooding plus employees unable to get to work will affect production, President Jake Thamm said. The worst of the damage was at his home, where the first floor entirely flooded.

“We’re lucky to have many friends and family helping us with the recovery process,” Thamm said. “We’ll get it all back together soon.”

While many local residents are helping those in need, it won’t be long until their focus turns to the outdoors and the countless hiking, biking and climbing areas that drew them to live here.

Already, the Boulder Climbing Community has set up a fund to help repair and rebuild trails, and more local outdoor organizations are planning for similar efforts. The Outdoor Industry Association, which is based in Boulder, sent an update on Monday, saying many members from outside the community had sent messages of concern and support for the Boulder outdoor community.

“Information is trickling in, but officials are still in emergency response mode and have not been able to fully assess the extent of the damage,” OIA Presdient Frank Hugelmeyer said. Once the full scope of damage is known, the organization likely will help organize efforts to help affected outdoor areas and businesses.

For Scott Kaier, public relations manager at American Rec in Boulder, the scene in here is unfortunately all too familiar. Two years ago, he was living and working in Vermont when Hurricane Irene blew through causing similar flood damage. “I hear that some people who helped with the recovery effort in Vermont are headed to Colorado to assist in the recovery out here,” he said.

Large chunks of road in Boulder and Larimer counties leading into the mountains have been destroyed, cutting off communities and trails. Rocky Mountain National Park remains closed, except for essential emergency traffic bringing supplies to the town of Estes Park. Elsewhere in the state, the mountain communities above Colorado Springs — many still recovering from fires earlier this year — experienced more damage with mudslides. And floodwaters in the north and south have been spreading east to the plains, swamping farmlands.

The city of Denver, and the mountain communities to the west of the Continental Divide — such as Keystone, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Vail — were fortunate to escape the heaviest of the rains and were largely unaffected.

–David Clucas