Heavy Rains Compromise Post-Waldo Flood Mitigation Efforts

Listen Now
2min 15sec
At the Incident Command Center in Manitou Springs Thursday afternoon.
Credit Andrea Chalfin
At the Incident Command Center in Manitou Springs Thursday afternoon.

The White House has approved an emergency declaration for flooding throughout the Front Range, making federal aid available to communities hardest hit by recent heavy rains.  As KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports, while Northern Colorado has so far borne the brunt of the damages, post-Waldo Canyon fire mitigation efforts in El Paso County have largely come undone.

It’s just too much too soon.  That’s the message from Theresa Springer of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte.  Springer says some of the basins already in place to help catch debris and slow water have been compromised, and the roots of new vegetation simply aren’t deep enough yet.

It is very saturated up there.  You walk, you’re sinking to your ankles in the mud.  I don’t have a lot of high expectations for how well this burn scar is going to handle this heavy rain.  So, we need to really just be prepared to start over from scratch.

Springer says she’s not surprised, simply because of how much rain the area has seen.

These things are getting overwhelmed very quickly.  They work, but they’re not the end all. It’s the best we have out there in our toolbox, and we’re just going to have to put in more.

And Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder says the mitigation efforts in place help for medium sized events.

But the really big events, I’m not sure there’s anything that anyone can do to prevent those.  And that’s always been the case here in Manitou Springs.  Even before the fire, we’ve always lived under the threat of severe flooding, and unfortunately this summer has really driven that point home for us.

Both Snyder and Springer say this isn’t THE big event, but rather it’s A big event.  Still, Springer says not everything’s been compromised, and better assessments of the catchment basins will come in the daytime hours.

The ones that need some help, they’ll get the help they need to make them functional again.  And then we’ll reevaluate, find funding to put in more. And it’s always a funding issue that comes with this also.

Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia has been touring flood-ravaged areas throughout the Front Range, including Manitou Springs.  With rains predicted throughout the weekend, officials are reminding residents to be hyper-vigilant and seek higher ground when warnings are issued.

For more on what's happening in Northern Colorado, visit our partners, KUNC or KGNU.