Walsenburg faces the imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property from potential historical flooding resulting from the Spring Creek Fire massive burn scar in the watersheds serving the City.
The Spring Creek Fire led to a massive burn scar which has the potential for historical flooding in Huerfano County, La Veta and Walsenburg. Extensive flooding has already occurred in Pass Creek and Middle Creek on July 23, 2018
Federal and State experts say there is a 100% chance of some flooding in Walsenburg due to the Spring Fire burn scar. There is also a significant probability of a major flooding event occuring in any given year for the next 6 years. The only question is when it is going to happen and how severe this potentially life-threatening event will be.
Over 400 homes and properties may be subject to emergency evacuation and when flooding occurs in La Veta, the residents of Walsenburg could have a mere 2 1/2 hours advance notice.
It is essential to PREPARE NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
What should you expect?
- A major flooding event could happen as early as April 1st so time is short to get ready.
- The fire caused damage producing hydrophobic soils and reduced percolation so we can expect up to 15 times the normal flow rate in the Cuchara Basin over the next six years and it could take up to twenty years before the soil is healed.
- In the best-case scenario only the property adjacent to the river will be flooded but in a worst-case scenario flooding could extend to the Holita ditch affecting all of downtown Walsenburg.
- If the storm sewers become flooded forced pressure could cause flooding in unexpected areas.
- Even if you are not in the affected area utilities could be disrupted and it could take weeks or even months before gas, water, and sewer are fully restored.
- The risk of historical flooding may continue for several years.
What can you do to get ready ?
Take responsibility for your own safety!
- Determine your risk then prepare and protect your family and property before any emergency arises.
- Stay informed and network with friends, family or neighbors to develop a plan that meets your individual needs and particular situation.
- Sign up for Code Red by calling 719-738-1044 to receive emergency alerts.
- Sign up for Pre-Evacuation Registration if you are in a high risk area.
- Make an Evacuation Plan and prepare an Emergency Kit so you are ready to move at a moment's notice.
- Listen for the warning siren. Be alert to your surroundings and don't take chances with your life.
- Become “Flood Buddies” and look out for your neighbors. If possible residents in high-risk areas should partner with friends or family outside the inundation zones.
- Get flood insurance and if you are able, install a backflow device to prevent sewage from backing up into your home from pressure in the City Sewer system.
- If you receive an evacuation notice lock your home and move rapidly to higher ground.
- Be prepared to be away from your home for up to two weeks.
What is being done now ?
- Community meetings and outreach efforts began this spring and annual meetings every March are being planned to keep the public informed. Meetings are videotaped and available online.
- A warning siren has been installed and tested to alert residents of impending flooding. You still need to remain aware of your surroundings and may need to take action before an “official” warning is issued.
- Channel Restoration began this Spring thanks to AmeriCorps volunteers, Greenleaf committee, Team Rubicon, and the Swift Team.
- HCWCD has installed new flood warning gauges to better monitor stream flow and provide earlier warning. They are available at http://hydrometcloud.com/.
- The City has approved an Emergency Watershed Protection Plan based on the Corps of Engineer's recommendations. Projects along Cucharas River have begun with scheduled completion on October 15, 2019. This 1.3 million dollar project is funded by grants.
- All residents are being encouraged to be proactive about removing any debris from their property to reduce the risk to others downstream.