Apr 5, 2014 7:29 PM by Tony Spehar

Manitou Springs residents briefed on preparations for flash flooding

Residents of Manitou Springs were briefed about the city's preparations for the next flash flood season at a community meeting on Saturday morning.

Nobody knows how bad it will be, but city leaders in Manitou Springs say flash flooding will come again this summer when heavy rains hit the Waldo Canyon burn scar. That's why dozens of residents turned out hear what the city had done to prepare.

"It was quite devastating," resident Robin Kovats said of the flooding in 2013. "Living here for years and then to see your own backyard and your neighbors so greatly impacted was just heart-wrenching."

On April 8th the city plans to award a $5.4-million flood mitigation project to a contractor with work beginning 10-days later. The first phase of the project will install concrete barriers and steel nets in Williams Canyon to stop heavy debris from reaching the town. The second phase will involve similar work in the water channel that runs along Narrows Avenue, where many homes were heavily damaged or destroyed in 2013. Finally the third phase, which is still being designed, would possibly use walls or other construction to direct the flow of water on Canon and Park Avenues.

"It's our belief that if we can catch the debris we can manage the water," City Administrator Jack Benson explained.

It was encouraging news for many in the crowd, but they were also cautioned that there's only so much that can be done to stand against Mother Nature. City leaders also stressed that residents need to prepare for other disaster scenarios as well.

"One thing we sometimes forget is that we're always going to have some threat of a fire here in Manitou Springs," Mayor Marc Snyder told the crowd. "Right now the moisture content in the forest is about the same as it was last year at this time."

Citizens were also told how they could help respond to future floods. In the wake of the 2013 floods hundreds of volunteers helped clean out flooded homes and businesses. To improve safety officials asked that everyone who wished to volunteer after a flood event sign up with an agency like the Red Cross before flood season begins or to sign-up after a flash flood at the Manitou Art Center at 515 Manitou Avenue so that police and firefighters would be able to keep track of them.

"For local folks to do something so that we can help feel like we're going to be able to be part of the solution I think it's very, very encouraging," said resident Val Buffa.

Residents were also urged to have an emergency kit including three-days worth of food and water ready and to make evacuation plans well ahead of fire and flood season.



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