NEDERLAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Normally it takes Nederland resident William Otto 35 minutes to get from his home to his office in Boulder. Since the destructive flooding on the Front Range last week the length of Otto’s commute has grown exponentially.
Otto is a climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and with Highway 119 through Boulder Canyon closed, he now has to drive out to Interstate 70 up along the Central City Parkway to get to work instead of taking the bus.
He and fellow Nederland residents attended a community meeting on Tuesday where the issue of accessibility to and from the community was the focus.
The meeting was held in the Nederland Community Center, which is still drying out from its own flood related damage in the basement.
Nederland Mayor Joe Gierlach told residents it will be at least a month before the Colorado Department of Transportation is able to reopen most of the canyon routes up from the lower elevations in Boulder County.
“It’s just going to be a longer drive and more expensive,” Otto said. “It’s going to be 50 miles from my house and it’s going to be an hour-and-a-half each way.”
Gierlach described Highway 119 and RTD’s N route up Boulder Canyon as Nederland’s “lifeblood.” The road was heavily washed out in spots last week when Boulder Creek flooded well beyond its banks and began flowing at historic levels.
“We have a lot of people that work at NCAR and NIST — the scientists that live up here,” he said.
Gierlach and other officials asked for residents to be patient considering the scope of the damage from the state’s flooding disaster.
“One really important aspect of our community is that we do live in the mountains,” the mayor said. “People are used to not having cell service and dealing with snow issues and I think the breed of people in the whole greater Nederland region are used to hardships and people are just going to plan their trips ahead of time and take the longer way out to Boulder.”
FEMA is provinding financial assistance so CDOT can begin to hire contractors.
Then they will start the repair work to restore access to Nederland and other surrounding communities.
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.