Multiple flash flood events have dramatic impacts on Glen Haven residents.
Updated with current access information in Glen Haven and detours on I-70
A driveway that was just rebuilt last Friday was destroyed again later that day after flash flooding later that day - photo by Jason Van Tatenhove
Multiple flash flood events have dramatic impacts on Glen Haven residents and across Colorado
Writers Note: This article was initially published in today's Trail-Gazette newspaper. I have included some new updates
Flash Flooding events have been having dramatic and, at times, life-ending consequences here in Larimer County and across Colorado.
In the Poudre, canyon flooding has claimed the lives of at least three people, with one person still missing.
I-70 has now been closed indefinitely until assessments and repairs can be completed. According to the CDOT press release:
I-70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to "extreme damage" from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday (July 31). This assessment was provided by senior operations supervisors and engineering staff, who described damage to the viaduct structure, unlike anything they had seen before. CDOT crews are assessing damage and continue to clear debris and mudflow when weather conditions are safe. Motorists are recommended to use the alternative northern route as described below. For trucks planning to travel through Colorado, CDOT recommends they take Interstate 80 through Wyoming.
Devastation on I-70 due to mud slides - photo courtesy of CDOT
CDOT strongly asks that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route via I-70 - CO 9 - US 40 - CO 13. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Eastbound travelers can detour using the same route in reverse.
While residents of the Glen Haven area have not seen the same death and destruction as seen along the Poudre River and the I-70 corridor. They have been dramatically impacted.
I went to see the damage first hand and spoke with several local residents impacted by the series of flash flood events plaguing the area.
Barb Blue lives with her disabled husband in a picturesque home below Black Creek and Miller Fork Creek before emptying into the North Fork Big Thomson river along county road 43.
We found Blue and a friend/hired helper power washing sentiment from everything in their yard. Over the past week, the Blues and their neighbors have endured two flash flood events and two more between the 4th of July and this past weekend.
Blue says Her neighbor had just completed replacing his driveway and culvert earlier Friday morning when later that afternoon it was once again destroyed and completely washed away by the flooding event on Saturday.
"The one on Friday was really bad," she tells us. "I didn't think it could get much worse. But, Saturday was much, much worse."
Blue goes on to say, "We own some of the lands that have Miller (Fork) Creek on it, and so the rain and water comes down onto our property and empties into a ditch here on 43. So, of course, we are getting a lot of debris washing down."
The Cameron Peak fire was only about a quarter of a mile from their neighborhood last October and November. "So we expected bit (of flooding.) But, nothing like this. Four times in one month is stressful and a lot, a lot of work. We haven't had a break. You know we are older." She tells us of damage done recently.
Barb Blue shows some of the damage to her property - Photo by Jason Van Tatenhove
The Blues say they and their neighbors need help. "I have had some neighbors and friends come over to help clean up. But we have a lot of clean-up yet to do."
Blue was hopeful earlier in the day we interviewed her that Americorps, a non-profit volunteer organization that helps with disaster relief, might come out to help her remove debris that was still in the creek and will cause further flooding if not removed. Unfortunately, according to Blue, because it is the end of their season, they could not come and help.
Blue has reached out to Larimer County and Crossroads Ministry with their fire relief ministries but has yet to hear back.
Blue describes the worst flash flood that happened on Saturday as "It started so quick, we were staying in the house. It happened so quickly. The flood came down Stream Side, which runs adjacent to our property. It came over my bridge and my deck." The wall of water that hit her property and then the culvert and over the roadway she describes as being "coal-black" she adds that "There is just so much of it that comes down, I just can't describe it."
A piece of heavy equipment that washed onto Blue’s property.
Blue says that the culvert that the county put in after the flood of 2013 was supposed to prevent flooding issues at the end of Miller Fork. But with the new burn scars from the Cameron Peak Fire above the area, it just may not be enough.
"It's just one thing after another. We get hit and hit again." Blue says of the experience of going through multiple natural disasters during the 22 years they have lived on their property.
Her husband was injured during the evacuations for the 2013 flood, during a helicopter hoist rescue, after the hoist snapped, and is now disabled.
I have reached out to Larimer County for information about recovery resources available to residents affected by the flash floods and mitigation plans moving forward.
UPDATE Wednesday, August 4: I received a call last night at approximately 8:40 from Barb Blue telling me that the Stream Side area had flooded again. According to social media posts from the Glen Haven Area Fire Department (GHAFD), these are the most recent updates;
Access to the homes upstream from 196 Streamside had been cut off after a culvert washed away on Streamside, leaving residents upstream landlocked.
Currently, Larimer County has filled in a footpath across the Streamside lower culvert to allow resident access. The county has also just completed a temporary culvert in place to restore vehicle access. This culvert is only temporary and may be susceptible to future washouts, so plan accordingly.
GHAVFD hiked into Streamside, did welfare checks, and established emergency access routes if the culvert washes out again.
One route starts at 227 Streamside (below the culvert) and runs along the South Side of Miller Fork to 579. This route also provides access to properties on the north side of Streamside via the driveway at 459.
The other access starts at upper Streamside just above the upper culvert and provides access from 1145 To 719 Streamside on the South Side of Miller Fork.
The paths are flagged with blue flagging tape.