In Colorado, farmers are scrambling to recover from September's historic floods — floods that decimated miles of roadways, cut off entire towns and sent rivers and creeks into areas they'd never been before.
Like Tim Foster's immaculate front yard.
"It was beautiful," he says. "I had four large blue spruces. We had hundred-year-old cottonwoods all along the bank. We had our irrigation and our pumps. It was just gorgeous."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is still in Colorado working with counties, including El Paso, to assist with recovery efforts. So far, the agency has approved more than 38 million dollars in assistance across the counties declared major federal disasters after last month’s devastating floods. Renee Bafalis is the FEMA Public Information Officer assigned to El Paso County, and she came by the KRCC studios to talk about their efforts. KRCC's Andrea Chalfin began by asking about the availability of assistance, despite the government shutdown.
As a government shutdown furloughs thousands of federal employees in Colorado, the state is reaching into its own pocket to ensure that work can continue on some roads and bridges damaged by flooding. Today, Governor John Hickenlooper said the state would pay the salary costs for 120 National Guard engineers, with some reimbursement coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We want to make sure that we don't lose a single day in trying to get these roads open and getting these communities back together again."
Governor John Hickenlooper told local officials this morning that many of the state highways and roads closed due to recent flooding have reopened. But as Bente Birkeland reports there's still a lot more work to do.
FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center opens today for residents of El Paso County affected by recent flooding. KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz has more.
The Center takes the place of the city’s recovery facility after the federal Major Disaster Declaration was expanded last week to include El Paso County. FEMA spokeswoman Renee Bafalis calls the Center a “one-stop-shop” that aims to help residents with insurance and medical needs, among other concerns.
Recent flood waters have left behind plenty of damage, but there is one silver lining. Rains recharged the soil, which the 2012 drought left bone dry. KUNC’s Luke Runyon has more…
While there are still pockets of dry areas in the state, the drought has been almost completely wiped out in the foothills and northeastern plains of Colorado. State climatologist Nolan Doesken says these types of weather extremes happen. Colorado may have been drenched in rain, but Doesken says that can change in a matter of months.
Colorado has a new chief recovery officer to help oversee rebuilding in the wake of massive floods. Governor John Hickenlooper made the announcement on yesterday, saying the goal is to have state and U.S. highways reconnected by December 1st. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
Update, Sat 11:30 AM: The boil advisory is now lifted.
Update, Fri 5:15 PM: The boil advisory for Manitou Springs is still in effect, but for certain neighborhoods only. The city says the lower section of Crystal Hills Boulevard and Vias Subdivisions require some follow-up testing, which is expected to be complete tomorrow morning. Other areas, including the downtown business district, are no longer under the boil advisory.
Streets specifically affected by the continuing boil water advisory are:
Days of rain have left Colorado Springs with infrastructure damages that could cost over $10 million. KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz reports that number will likely rise as officials continue to assess the situation.
Colorado Senator Mark Udall pledged to seek full federal support to help restore the state after flood waters devastated parts of the foothills and Front Range. Udall and Senator Michael Bennet both addressed the U.S. Senate yesterday describing efforts on the ground. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
The town of Lyons in Boulder County is one of the areas hardest hit by recent floods. There is no water, sewage, electricity or gas in the town and most of the bridges that connect the town north and south have been destroyed. The entire population of just over 2000 people has been asked to leave to allow officials to assess damage and begin reconstruction. Maeve Conran spoke with town administrator Victoria Simonsen by the banks of the St. Vrain, which charts a new course through the town.
Weld County in northeastern Colorado, one of the most drilled in the nation, was also among the hardest hit by this week’s historical floodwaters. State regulators and oil and gas industry workers are now scrambling to assess the damage and mitigate the health and environmental impacts.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:16 am
As the remaining flood survivors continue to be airlifted out of towns cut off by flooding, the focus is beginning to shift to recovery. Specifically on the very reason they have to be airlifted: roads.
A flood warning is in effect for the Arkansas River at La Junta after days of continuous rainfall along the valley and in the Pikes Peak region. KRCC's Maggie Spencer has more.
The river is expected to exceed its 11-foot flood stage tonight, and crest just over 12-feet by midmorning Tuesday. The National Weather Service says flood stage means some agricultural flooding. Officials there say residents should stay away from flowing water and riverbanks. The warning came this morning and expires Wednesday.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:14 am
Rain ground recovery efforts from days of massive flooding across Colorado to a halt Sunday. Helicopters were prevented from conducting additional search and rescue efforts in Boulder and Larimer counties.
Update, 7:00 PM Monday: CDOT has reopenedManitou Avenue to traffic at the U.S. 24 interchange. In addition, the ramps from U.S. 24 to Manitou Avenue are open. The culvert has been cleared of debris, and CDOT will continue to monitor it.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:08 am
For a second day flood waters, goaded by heavy rains, impacted large swaths of the Front Range. When skies finally broke, many were stranded, hundreds were in need of rescue and four lives were lost statewide.
Colorado Springs officials have released initial damage assessments following this week's flooding. Officials note that potential rain this weekend may produce further damaging incidents, and assessments will be ongoing. Their list is as follows:
Damage assessments are underway in Colorado Springs as heavy rains continue to move through the Pikes Peak region and throughout the Front Range. Officials are urging residents to remain aware of weather conditions as rain is predicted throughout the weekend.
Director of Emergency Management Bret Waters says the city and regional partners have been preparing for these kinds of events for some time now, and it’s important to stay prepared.
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.