Oil & Gas Industry, Regulators Scramble in Post-Flood Colorado

Sep 17, 2013
Theresa Gilbert/Weld Air and Water

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.

“At this point – as access continues to be limited and emergency responders remain focused on lives, property and roadways – we have limited information about specific impacts or particular locations,” said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

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.

After rain pummeled flooded communities over the weekend, long awaited sunshine poked through the clouds Monday. Towns are just starting to dry out from days of heavy rain and flooding.

The flooding that has roared through communities and canyons across Colorado's Front Range in recent days is now being blamed for:

-- as many as eight deaths

-- damaging or destroying 19,000 homes

-- causing up to $500 million worth of damage to roads and highways.

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.

State and federal officials say it’s still too early to determine the scope of damages in the wake of Colorado’s devastating floods.

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.

Colorado remains under the spell of water. Steady rains Sunday hampered evacuation and rescue efforts and brought renewed warnings to a flood weary Front Range.


Update, 7:00 PM Monday: CDOT has reopened Manitou 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.


As flooding moves east across Colorado and rains are once again in the forecast, the recovery efforts continue.

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.

Andrea Chalfin

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.

Rains Pummel Front Range

Sep 12, 2013
Andrea Chalfin

A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect for the Waldo Canyon burn area until 8:30 PM Thu 09/12/13.

Officials have their eyes to the sky as heavy rains continue to hit much of the Front Range.  Manitou Springs has had an Incident Command Center open off and on since 9:00 last night.  The ICC is open again this afternoon as officials stay ready for more rain.

Emergency responders in Colorado Springs recovered the body of an adult male early this morning from Fountain Creek after heavy rains overnight. 

The Colorado Springs Police Department noticed a body in the water near Nevada and Las Vegas Streets while conducting flood patrols and notified the city’s fire department.  The Heavy Rescue Team recovered the remains shortly before 5 this morning.  Identification and official cause of death are pending.  A flash flood watch remains in effect for El Paso and Teller Counties through midnight.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has instituted new policies for Highway 24 as related to Flash Flood Warnings. When the National Weather Service issues a warning, or rain gages indicate more than a quarter inch of rain in the Waldo Canyon burn zone, CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol plan to close the route.  The highway will then remain closed until the warning is lifted, any debris is removed, and the road is deemed safe for travel.  In addition, CDOT will actively patrol the highway between Manitou Springs and Cascade at all times through October 1.

Andrea Chalfin

Efforts continue all across the Waldo Canyon burn scar to help reduce the effects of flooding.  Colorado Springs Utilities expects to wrap up initial work in the Northfield Watershed on Rampart Range within the next month or so.  But Project Manager Kim Gortz with Utilities says it’s really an ongoing effort.

"Hayman’s still seeing issues 10 years post-fire, so I think we’re starting in our planning phase as far as what do we do for long-term restoration, what do we do for monitoring each time we have a monsoon season."

Flood Survivor Tells Harrowing Tale

Aug 14, 2013
Liz Ruskin

While Manitou Springs authorities celebrated finding one survivor, another Manitou flood victim, 49-year-old Laura Hunter, told reporters Monday at Penrose Hospital she’s thrilled to be alive. KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports.

Hunter was in her small cottage in the 500 block of Canon Ave. when water started quickly pouring into her living room.


Recent flooding has prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation to close Manitou Avenue (Highway 24 - Business) at the west end of town between Serpentine Drive and Highway 24.  Friday’s flood washed out two road segments, both about 30-40 feet long, and around 200-300 feet apart, making it unsafe for travel.  Engineers estimate repairs could take 2-3 months and cost around $1.5 million.  CDOT is seeking emergency funds from the Federal Highway Administration and is working on getting contracting in place so repairs can begin as soon as possible.  The total closed distance is about a


The Colorado Springs Police Department is confirming the body of Rose Hammes was found just after midnight last night under a bridge in a canal on Platte Avenue, near Wooten Road.

Andrea Chalfin

Flash flood watches and warnings peppered the weekend in the Pikes Peak region, with skies darkening ominously as thunder and rain rolled in each afternoon.  Last night’s warning was canceled early, and Highway 24 and Manitou Springs were spared a repeat of Friday’s devastating flooding.

Andrea Chalfin

Update: Sun 1:40 PM
Per the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, the mother of missing person Juston Travis has reported she's spoken to him and he is safe. One person still unaccounted for. As described yesterday, she is a petite blonde female, wearing black shirt over tan pants. MSPD Chief Joe Ribeiro: “Seen near the creek at one moment hanging in a tree, and then not seen the next.”

Jane Turnis

Update: 11:20PM:  The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is reporting the body of an adult man has been found along Highway 24 near mile marker 297.  They report the body was buried under a significant amount of debris along the westbound lanes of the highway.  No identification is available at this time.   

10:25 PM:  Highway 24 is now reopened, with one lane in each direction.  

El Paso County Works to Repair Flooded Culverts

Aug 9, 2013

With thunderstorms in the forecast for the next few days, the possibility of flash flooding in El Paso County remains.  As KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports, the county is working to repair roads in the Black Forest area damaged in last weekend’s floods.

The county is placing road maintenance equipment in Black Forest so it can quickly remove flood debris and keep drainages open. County Spokesman Dave Rose says the big challenge is a large drainage system that runs south through the burn area and then along Shoup Road, an important east-west route.

Sandbags will be available to homeowners facing impacts from potential flash flooding in and near the Waldo Canyon burn scar.  They'll be given away free at the Verizon Wireless building on Garden of the Gods Road from 8 - 2 Saturday. The sand comes from last week's Olympic Downtown Celebration and its sand volleyball pit.

Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials have released updated flood maps for areas in and near the Waldo Canyon burn scar.  The maps detail expected flood effects after one-hour rainfall amounts of a half-inch up to two inches of rain.  The assessments assumed debris in floodwaters would cause blockages at street crossings.  Maps include Ute Pass, Manitou Springs, and Fountain Creek.  Douglas Creek maps have not yet been updated.  There’s a preparedness meeting tonight at six for residents and businesses along Fountain Creek at Al Kaly Shrine.

Forecasters say the storm over the Waldo Canyon burn scar yesterday that produced flash flooding through Williams Canyon was quick-moving and dropped six-tenths of an inch of rain in about 15 minutes. KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin has more.

Manitou Springs city officials were quick to praise education efforts and first-responder cooperation, but Police Chief Joe Ribeiro acknowledged the city’s warning siren didn’t work correctly.