Boulder City Council overhauled its regular agenda Tuesday to hear complaints from many residents about communication between citizens and safety officials during the flood.
Several speakers at the Tuesday night meeting complained during the public-comment portion about the information that Boulder authorities gave flood-zone residents while the natural disaster was in full swing.
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said that Boulder’s safety resources were spread thin during the two major days of the flood, Sept. 11-12. A SWAT team was sent out and there was a 167 percent increase in calls to the police station.
“We are small parts of an entire operation going on behind the scenes,” Beckner said. “The emergency operations center has people who are responsible simply for communicating with the public.”
Beckner said there were no reported fatalities or missing persons in the city, despite the difficulties police faced while evacuating some residents. However, as of Sept. 18 there have been 397 damaged residences, 340 destroyed residences, 33 damaged commercial buildings and three destroyed commercial buildings, according to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management. Four people have reportedly died in Boulder County.
The city attempted to keep social media feeds updated and post developments on their official website, according to Patrick von Keyserling, city communication director.
Students relied on Twitter and other social media sites for the information about the natural disaster, but many felt that it wasn’t enough to feel safe or know how to help.
“The information released to students was sub-par, just basic information,” Israel Kalombo, a 19-year-old economics major, said.
CU junior and anthropology major Athena Lakobong, 20, also said communication from authorities was lacking.
“I wish they also talked more about traffic and not just the amount of rain,” Lakobong said. “It was still difficult to get around if you had to get outside.”
Boulder officials said they didn’t have time to post everything occurring the natural disaster. The information that the city shared, von Keyserling said, was confirmed and official. That accuracy transpires all outlets of communication, including social media and the “Twitter-sphere.”
“We tried to distribute the resources we have so that we have, albeit limited, some response for the community,” Boulder Fire Chief Larry Donner said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ari Browne at Shikari.firstname.lastname@example.org.