I live in Manitou Springs, but like most of you, my mind has been in Mountain Shadows.
Concerns have raced through my head ever since the tragedy struck. Of course I felt for the people who lost homes — or lives — but I also worried about those whose homes were saved, but whose neighborhoods have disappeared.
Those who remain in Mountain Shadows, after all, aren't exactly as "lucky" as they've been portrayed. Many came home to looted houses. Their once-gorgeous views are blackened. Their home values have tanked. And to heap on a little more misery, they're all at risk of major flood damage since the burned-out hills are now erosion risks.
But on the flood risk issue, at least, Mountain Shadows isn't alone. My own hometown — Manitou Springs — was spared the fire, but it may not be spared the water. Built around a creekbed, and downstream from a lot of burned-out acreage, Manitou could be facing some major issues in future years. That fact isn't lost on the town government, which is handing out sandbags.
Guess that means we should all stop praying for rain. Maybe we should pray for drizzle instead?
Headline: Waldo Fire Update — Post Fire, Flood Planning
Date: July 6, 2012
With the Waldo Canyon Fire nearly 100% contained, it is important for residents to be vigilant regarding post-fire flash flooding. The burn area is our watershed, with steep canyons that drain into Fountain Creek. With a good percentage of the vegetation in that area gone and charred debris left behind, flash flooding can be intensified. City Administrator Jack Benson indicated that with the fire event winding down, our attention needs to be on post- fire flood planning. Some residents have experience with flash flooding in our area, while others, including visitors, do not. Rain events of one-half inch per hour or more can cause significant flooding. Most of Manitou’s business district is in the floodplain, as are residences along the river. It is important that residents within the floodplain remain vigilant of storm activities and alert authorities about obstructions to the waterways. If you see a drainage problem developing, contact Public Works at (719) 685-2560 and after hours, contact MSPD Dispatch at (719) 685-5407 to report the problem.
In the event of flash flooding seek higher ground immediately. The city will notify residents via our reverse 911 system. If you are aware of flooding, do not wait to be notified. Take necessary action to protect your safety. For those that rely on cell phones, please register your phone with www.elpasoteller911.org.
Because flooding potential is heightened due to the burn area and will remain so for quite some time (possibly years), our Stormwater Department suggests the following to reduce the threat of flooding:
• Know if you are in the floodplain. Go to: https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1.
• Assess your property for flood risk. If you would like to sandbag certain flood prone areas around your property, the City will have sandbags and fill material at the Memorial Park area.
• Check to see if you have flood insurance (homeowner policies seldom cover flood events). Property owners and renters can get flood insurance. Coverage may be obtained though local insurance agents familiar with flood insurance, or an agent may be located on the web at floodsmart.gov, or through NFIP @ (888) 379-9531.
• Do not dump trash, limbs, leaves or other debris into drainage channels whether they are dry or flowing.
• Keep all drainages and creeks on your property free of limbs and debris.
• Report clogged drainage channels, creeks, or storm drains to the Public Works Department as soon as possible.
• For more information on flood mitigation strategies go to http://www.ready.gov/floods