Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

CSTPR Noontime Seminar

The High Water Mark: Policy Lessons Learned from Colorado’s 2013 Floods

by Deserai Crow
School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver

Abstract: Many communities on Colorado’s northern Front Range were hit by the catastrophic 2013 floods. These communities faced immediate challenges in emergency response, but also have wrestled with long-term questions regarding the path to recovery. Floods can serve as opportunities for communities to re-envision themselves. Dr. Deserai Crow will present findings from a study of community response to the floods in Colorado in seven communities located in the three hardest-hit counties in the state. Using data from in-depth interviews over three years, as well as surveys with decision-makers and residents, researchers empirically assess the decisions made within communities and the processes that led to those decisions. Crow will present reflections on lessons learned regarding policy changes that have taken place and the role of participatory public processes through the recovery process. This study helps to improve our understanding of the factors that contribute to policy learning following a disaster, leading to long-term recovery and community resilience.

Biography: Dr. Deserai A. Crow is Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. She is an affiliate with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at CU-Boulder. She also spent eight years on the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder in both Journalism and Environmental Studies from 2008-2016. Crow earned her PhD from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in Environmental Policy. She also holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver’s School of Public Affairs and a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Crow researches local and state-level environmental policy, including stakeholder participation and influence, information sources used, and policy outcomes. Her work often focuses on natural disaster recovery and risk mitigation in local communities and natural resource agencies. Dr. Crow’s natural hazards work includes a study of community flood recovery and policy learning in the aftermath of the 2013 floods in Colorado that is funded by the National Science Foundation. Another project analyzes the role of agencies and individuals in promoting wildfire risk mitigation on private property in the Wildland Urban Interface across the West. Prior to her academic work, she worked as a broadcast journalist and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017
2017 - 12:00 to 13:00





  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • General Public
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public



CSTPR Conference Room