Larimer County officials talk mitigation efforts after deadly flash floods
LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – As crews continue to clean up after a deadly flash flood in the Cameron Peak burn scar area, the Larimer County Office of Emergency Management shared an update on the situation during a press briefing held early Saturday evening.
Damage assessment teams determined that seven buildings were impacted by flood waters, including one home, which was destroyed, one moderately damaged outbuilding, and five minorly-damaged homes.
During the update, Larimer County OEM shared new photos of the damage that showed roads completely covered with water that appeared to look more like rivers.
They also talked about the ways people in burn scar areas can prevent floods from happening on their properties.
Debris operators are still in the area and are conducting assessments. Debris operations will start Monday morning and at this time, County Road 44H remains closed to the public.
“So it came very quickly and it just dumped a ton of rain and the burn scar couldn’t handle that,” Larimer OEM Lori Hodges said. “When we have a wildfire, the soil changes and it’s no longer able to absorb the water as normal soil would for a little while after the fire.”
Flood-after-fire has been a common occurrence in these communities time and time again.
“They have had just substantial damages again and again and again since last year. It’s one of those areas that just keeps getting hit by these rainstorms,” Hodges said.
One of those storms hit the Cameron Peak burn scar on Friday, the result of which was dangerous rushing waters that ended up taking the lives of two people, a woman and a little girl.
“My condolences to the family and friends of the victims. My heart is very broken this morning with the news and my deepest gratitude and thanks to all the first responders and the volunteers,” Larimer County Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally said.
A $7 million project that aimed to repair County Road 44h from the 2013 flood had recently been completed. Now, that money seems to be going down the drain.
“That’s actually County Road 44 H right there. It looks like it’s a river but it was washed away pretty heavily,” Hodges explained.
Lori Hodges said there was a success story amid all this, pointing out that 90% of one piece of property, named the Retreat, was saved due to flood mitigation efforts.
“The community members told us that those barrier bags saved that area,” Hodges said.
A beach in a box, as some describe it, costs about $50,000 per bag. Hodges said that the county puts these up in flood-risk areas for free but some homeowners turn them down.
“They’re these big monstrous things that protect your property. And in some cases, people don’t want them for aesthetic reasons,” Hodges said. “There is no cost to the public in the programs that we’ve been running through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. We get grants for that.”
Experts are still working to determine the total cost of damage to the area, however, they estimate the extent of the damage has not reached the threshold required to issue a Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration.
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