Colorado Springs, El Paso County assess flood damage: Roads, parks, creeks need work

September 17, 2013 Updated: September 17, 2013 at 8:52 am
photo - Crews work to clear clogged drainage on Manitou Ave.near the Highway 24 underpass in Manitou Springs  Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Flooding of the area has closed Manitou Ave. Detours are in place to ensure travel in and out of Manitou Springs.
Carol Lawrence, The Gazette
Crews work to clear clogged drainage on Manitou Ave.near the Highway 24 underpass in Manitou Springs Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Flooding of the area has closed Manitou Ave. Detours are in place to ensure travel in and out of Manitou Springs. Carol Lawrence, The Gazette 

A man whose body was found in the West Fork of Sand Creek on Monday may be the latest victim of the summer floods in El Paso County.

The Colorado Office of Emergency Management said the man was the second person in El Paso County and the eighth statewide killed by flooding that began on Wednesday, but local officials continue to investigate the cause of death for the man, possibly in his 20s.

The body of Danny Davis, 54, was found in Fountain Creek on Thursday. The El Paso County Coroner's Office, which had no address for Davis, said he died of accidental drowning.

Two other Pikes Peak area residents died last month in flash floods: John Collins, a 53-year-old Divide contractor, drowned Aug. 9 when he was swept away in floodwaters on U.S. 24 west of Manitou Springs, and Rose Hammes, 17, of Colorado Springs was swept downstream Aug. 12 while apparently seeking cover from a deluge under a bridge off North Academy Boulevard and Maizeland Road.

On Monday, police said the Colorado Springs Fire Department helped to recover the latest victim from Sand Creek at 11:41 a.m. on the east side of 4600 Town Center Drive, near East Platte Avenue and Wooten Road. Police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said foul play is not suspected in the death.

The coroner's office is conducting an autopsy to determine how the man died. Police said the man's identity wasn't known. No further information was available. A spokesperson for the coroner's office did not return calls Monday.

Sand Creek, which runs north-south through eastern Colorado Springs, normally carries little, if any, water, but flows at the mouth of the creek peaked at 137 cubic feet per second and water reached 2.73 feet deep at 4:15 p.m. Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The peak water level was 60 percent of the highest level reached this year - 4.49 feet on Aug. 12 - and less than half of the highest level the agency has measured - 6.22 feet in June 2004.

Colorado Springs is expected to begin drying out on Tuesday, with a slight chance of rain forecast on Thursday but no significant precipitation expected through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

"Looks like it's going to be a lot drier than what we've had recently. Very little in the forecast for the next week as far as precipitation goes," said Pamela Evenson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

The forecast is welcome news for city and county officials, who are working to assess the damages caused by the latest flooding in the region. Sinkholes, destroyed roads, electrical outages and standing water are among their top concerns.

Here's a breakdown of some of the top troublespots and projects in the city and county:


A nearly 10-hour power outage affected 3,700 customers in Security-Widefield, and officials are certain it was water-related, Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said Monday. According to reports, the thousands of customers lost power at 4:32 p.m. Sunday and Utilities fully restored service by 2 a.m. Monday.

"We've been dealing with electric vaults getting water infiltration and areas where debris has washed up against a pole, causing damage to the equipment," Berry said.

Another concern for Utilities crews has been the exposure of gas lines because of road erosion. A 40-foot-wide and 25-foot-deep sinkhole opened underneath a driveway on the 2700 block of Flintridge Drive on Sunday night, Berry said.

A nearby gas line was exposed, and gas was temporarily shut off to the residence while Utilities assessed damage. "As of 8 a.m. Monday, there was no word of any damage to the gas line, so the gas was restored," Berry said. "But if the sinkhole continues to cave in, there's no telling what could happen."

A silver lining, if there is one, he said, has been the performance of the city's wastewater system in the face of the massive walls of water that have roared down creeks and waterways. Berry said $165 million was invested on improvements to the system, and they worked.

"There are lots of places where our utility services cross creeks, and the system has held up tremendously well."

Colorado Springs got off relatively easy in other areas, too. The Denver Post reported that coal deliveries to and from Colorado are suffering delays of up to 72 hours due to washouts over railways between Denver and Boulder County.

"We have not faced this problem, as we've been fortunate that the disaster hit us when the demand for coal isn't quite high; it's not the height of summer or winter, and customers aren't cranking their air conditioning or their central heat," Berry said. "We're able to meet demands without problems now. If the floods keep up, then it will become a problem."

Reservoir levels also are up from the excess rainfall.

"We're not in a position to say the drought is over, but this will help us long term, going into winter," Berry said. "The soil moisture is saturated and in the coming winter, snow will build up on the ground, giving us a better chance for runoff. That will certainly help keep the reservoir levels up."


Cheyenne Road on the city's southwest side remains closed. "We are asking people who do not live in the neighborhood to please avoid the area to allow for recovery crews to aid with flood recovery," Kim Melchor, a city spokeswoman, said in an email.

Melchor also said street patching is needed throughout the city, and several gravel alleys downtown were washed out.

The El Paso County Public Services Department made temporary repairs to all of the roads in its jurisdiction to make them passable, with the exception of Old Stage Road in southwest Colorado Springs.

"About a half-mile stretch of Old Stage Road is completely destroyed and it will remain indefinitely closed," Max Kirschbaum, operations director, said. "About a mile below the stables at The Broadmoor, very close to Myron Road, so much water rushed through the area and cut the road off at several points ... it's impassable. I can't commit on an exact time frame for repairs."

Gold Camp Road also is closed along the length of Old Stage Road and closed at the Teller County line, Kirschbaum said.

Rock Creek Canyon Road west of Colorado 115 sustained considerable damage as well and will need asphalt patching to be fully passable. Squirrel Creek Road and Milne Road remain under water, so county services will wait for the water to recede and assess the damage.

"We'll run a grader over them to make sure they're safe and passable," Kirschbaum said. "At this point there's no estimate of how much these repairs will cost, but we're looking at several weeks of work to get all the roads up and running - given that the rains stop."

Parks and creeks

The city is still assessing damage to parks. Residents who notice damage are asked to report it on the city's customer service web page: Palmer Park and North Cheyenne Canon Park remain closed. Also:

- A channel wall fell into the creek on Shooks Run, south of Bijou Street, and the creek near Patty Jewett suffered major scouring.

- Also in need of repairs: North/South Douglas, Camp and Cottonwood creeks

- Several bridges on Cheyenne Creek were damaged.

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