Small streams and rivulets of water rushed down Sunshine Canyon Drive as residents surveyed the damage from flooding and heavy rain Thursday morning.

The canyon, which was closed for some of the morning at Green Rock Drive, reopened shortly after 11 a.m. A portion of Sunshine Canyon Drive's westbound lane had collapsed less than a mile west of Boulder, and several private driveways had caved in.

Mark and Debbie Sipowicz, in rain gear and with their hoods up, walked down the mostly deserted Sunshine Canyon Drive toward Boulder with their dog. Their cars were stuck in their driveway, so walking was the only means of transportation for the Sipowicz family, who lives about a half-mile west of the closure at Green Rock Drive.

Heavy rains caused dirt to collapse near Sunshine Canyon Drive west of Boulder.
Heavy rains caused dirt to collapse near Sunshine Canyon Drive west of Boulder. (Daily Camera)

"We can't get out of our driveway if we wanted to," Debbie Sipowicz said.

"The driveway just has a river running through it and across it," Mark Sipowicz said. "A 4-foot-deep river gash running across it. Until someone comes to do something with it, there's no way we'll get out."

Other than that, their home didn't experience any major damage, he said, adding that the rains and flooding have given him a chance to reflect on the capabilities of the weather.

"Even though we are in general feeling safe and fortunate, I'm definitely present to the awesome and somewhat terrifying power of nature and what could be," he said. "And I'm reminded of devastating rain and floods other places in the world that we've read about and heard about before. It definitely brings it all to the forefront when we're sitting in it."


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Just up the road, 13-year Sunshine Canyon resident Phyllis Perreault stood outside her garage with her umbrella.

"Never seen it like this," Perreault said.

She pointed to water rushing downhill in front of her driveway.

"That creek hasn't run like that since I've been here," she said.

Perreault said she had a "mud event" in her driveway, or 3 inches of thick mud that had washed down from Seven Hills Road, but otherwise, her property was mostly undamaged.

Part of west-bound Sunshine Canyon Drive collapsed Thursday morning as a result of heavy rains.
Part of west-bound Sunshine Canyon Drive collapsed Thursday morning as a result of heavy rains. (Daily Camera)

The storm had strewn rocks, mud, gravel and other debris on the roads near her house, though Perreault said she wasn't worried about getting out safely. Mostly, she was amazed at the amount of rain that kept falling from the sky.

"It's like Noah's Ark," she said. "Seriously. When you think that this is supposed to continue on through the night, it's hard to imagine."

Two of her neighbors, David Lapp and Ed Johnson, gathered in Lapp's driveway to hand off a wet-dry vacuum for Johnson's basement.

Lapp used a shovel, rake and a bright orange tractor to push dirt and gravel around to redirect the flow of water away from his house, which sits down below the road. Lapp stayed home from his job in Longmont to deal with the rain in his neighborhood, and he was already on his second change of clothes, he said.

"I think in general we're probably doing better than the people in town, but I'm not going into town to look," Lapp said, laughing.

On Granite Drive just off Sunshine Canyon Drive, Chad Horwitz and neighbor Max Berman used shovels to redirect water into two small rivers around a silver Airstream trailer in the driveway. They'd already dug out a truck stuck in the mud, said Berman, still wearing flannel pajama pants.

Their basement was still dry, and they'd diverted as much water as they could around the trailer, which sat on a raised bed of gravel.

"(The damage) is very minimal; it's just a pain in the butt, really," said Berman's cousin Jordan Chandler.

David and Robert Hoffman wandered around the road outside their house, checking out water as it splashed down rocks from the cliffs above.

The Hoffmans' basement flooded slightly, and water and debris flowed in under their front door. A mass of gravel had slid down from a nearby overhang onto their driveway.

They pointed toward a drainage pipe with water rushing out and down onto the already-muddied Poorman Road below.

"You can see the water pouring out," said David Hoffman, wearing shorts, sandals and a cowboy hat. "It's the sound that's amazing. It's like a waterfall. You never hear anything like that."

Contact staff writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.