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Disaster declared for Beulah flooding

May 12, 2017 Updated: May 12, 2017 at 6:31 am
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photo - Photo by PuebloCounty Sheriff
Photo by PuebloCounty Sheriff 

Update 7:16 p.m.

Pueblo County commissioners issued a disaster declaration Thursday evening for Beulah after days of heavy rain and flash flooding washed out roads and forced residents to evacuate their homes.

The declaration makes Pueblo County eligible for state funds and resources after the county determined it didn’t have the resources or funds needed to repair the damage, the Sheriff’s Office said.

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Update 6:21 p.m.

On Friday, Pueblo County crews will be "focusing on assessing damages, clearing debris, making minor repairs and planning for long-range road repairs," the Sheriff's Office said.

Water receded Thursday and crews were able to make progress "after flood waters washed out roads, damaged culverts and inundated drainage ditches," the Sheriff's Office said.

Power has been restored to all but about 100 San Isabel Electric Association customers.

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Update 6:14 p.m.

The evacuation center in Beulah has closed, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said. 

Much of Pueblo County and parts of Fremont, Custer and Huerfano counties will remain under a flood warning issued by the National Weather Service in Pueblo until 7:45 p.m.

About 4 p.m., there were reports from law enforcement "that areas of flooded roads and streams continue across the warning area," according to the warning. "This is the result of 2 to 6 inches of rainfall over the past 24 hours combined with ongoing snowmelt in the higher elevations."

"Flood waters are showing some recession in most areas but they have not abated completely. Do not travel into flooded areas. If you must travel, please check with law enforcement to see if your route is open."

The National Weather Service in Pueblo reported about 2:30 p.m. Thursday that 5.82 inches of precipitation had fallen in the Beulah area in the last three days, with a total of 8.05 inches since April 29. In the last 24 hours, 4.48 inches of precipitation fell.

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Update 5:07 p.m.

A verbal executive order from Gov. John Hickenlooper prompted the Colorado National Guard to assist with the evacuations in Pueblo County, according to a news release.

Four Army National Guard soldiers from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora evacuated the trapped people in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

"The Colorado National Guard stands ready to provide additional support to help the people of Buelah," Adjutant General of Colorado Maj. Gen. Michael A. Loh said in a written statement. "We're your neighbors, and we're here to help."

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Update 3:33 p.m.

The Colorado National Guard helped evacuate seven people by helicopter Thursday afternoon because washouts from flooding were preventing them from leaving their homes on Northcreek Road, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said.

A UH-60 helicopter transported the people to the Beulah School, 8734 School House Lane, the site of an American Red Cross evacuation center.

"While the evacuations were voluntary, it was necessary to assist these people in safely getting them from their homes due to not having access on Northcreek Road because of washouts on that road,” Pueblo County Undersheriff JR Hall said in a written statement.

Several road closures remain in effect:

  • Northcreek Road from Central Avenue to the Pueblo County/Custer County line
  • Red Creek West at the low water crossing
  • Red Creek West, one mile east of Siloam Road
  • Squirrel Creek Road
  • Geronimo Drive at Pine Drive
  • The lower entrance to Pueblo Mountain Park Road at Pine Drive
  • 3R Road at Crow Cutoff

San Isabel Electric crews are working to restore power to about 160 customers in the Beulah Valley, the Sheriff's Office said.

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Update: 1:30 p.m.

Geronimo Road is closed at Pine Drive, due to damage. Erosion has made travel unsafe, according to the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.

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At least one family was being evacuated from the Beulah area Thursday after flash floods from overnight storms left parts of the area underwater.

Law enforcement was working to remove the family from the Northcreek Road area, according to the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office. The road, from Central Avenue to the Pubelo/Custer County Line, was one of several closed by flooding.

Also closed is:

- Siloam Road from Highway 78 to Highway 96

- 3R Road at Crow Cutoff (with a detour at Waterbarrel Road)

- Red Creek Springs Road, west of Siloam Road

Photo by PuebloCounty Sheriff 

The American Red Cross is setting up a shelter at the Beulah School, 8734 School House Lane, which has been serving as a reception center since Wednesday evening.

San Isabel Electric Association also is reporting scattered outages in the area.

As of 8:30 a.m., they had about 950 meters without power in Beulah, Northcreek, Highway 165 north of Rye to McKenzie Junction, Libra, Redwing, Malachite, Paradise Acres, Trujillo Creek, Zoellers, Forbes Park, Huajatolla, Cuchara Pass Ranches, Panadero and Britton Spanish Peaks, according to their Facebook post.

Photo by PuebloCounty Sheriff 

An estimated time for power to be restored was not provided.

Officials had been warning of possible flash flooding near Beulah following two forest fires on Beulah Hill and in Junkins Park last fall.

The Beulah Hill fire, reportedly sparked by construction equipment, burned through about 5,000 acres. The Junkins Park fire, sparked when wind blew a metal building into a power line, destroyed 16,312 acres, consuming five homes and 13 outbuildings in the process.

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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