In preparation for flooding in western Colorado, inmates and staff were evacuated from the Delta Correctional Center (DCC).
The Colorado Department of Corrections said it received notification from the Delta County Emergency Manager about potential flooding in the area in March. The correctional facility is located nine miles west of Delta.
After consultation with the Offices of Emergency Management on the local, county, and state levels over the last several weeks, the DOC decided to transport inmates to other facilities. Officials would not name the facilities when asked.
Officials say the move is temporary.
“Experts estimate that flooding will hit the first part of May with peaks from mid-May to June,” DOC Spokeswomen Annie Skinner said. “We will be closely monitoring the situation over the coming weeks and will make the decision to reopen DCC as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Delta County Emergency Management Coordinator Kris Stewart said the facility sits between Roubideau Creek and Cottonwood Creek, which have both swelled due to spring runoff.
“The concern was how much snowpack and snow water equivalent was up the Uncompahgre Plateau this year and would be coming down those creeks. They could possibly lose access to the facility if the bridges that go out to the facility were impacted,” Stewart said. “The Department of Corrections leadership made the decision to move the inmates housed at that facility out to other facilities until the high-risk water recedes later on this spring.”
DCC has the capacity to hold 477 inmates at minimum custody levels. The current population is 480 male inmates, according to DOC.
The Delta Correctional Center also filled 12,000 sandbags and moved out office items such as documents, equipment and electronics over the past few weeks in preparation for the flood, according to Skinner.
The corrections department says the facility has already experienced flooding at its secondary entrance. The area was deemed impassable due to water levels.
Emergency managers across Western Colorado have been grappling with spring runoff, particularly as it relates to smaller streams and rivers. Earlier this week, runoff brought mudslides through Glenwood Springs, blocking a portion of train tracks and cutting off access to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Runoff near Paonia opened up a sinkhole, closing Highway 133 north of town. Transportation officials were readying for a closure of nearly 50 miles of highway between Gateway and Naturita because of high river flows.
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