With a little help from Manitou Springs officials, a woman who lost her home in early July flash floods has been able reach a bit of closure this week.
Joy Barrett, 60, was living on Canon Avenue near Williams Canyon when a torrent of water, mud, boulders and other debris slammed into her 99-year-old house. The flow came pouring out of Williams Canyon after heavy rains hit the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar on the afternoon of July 1. The fire had burned more than 18,000 acres west of Colorado Springs a year before and left ash-laden slopes that refuse to soak up rainwater.
The Manitou Springs City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to purchase Barrett's property at 609 Canon Ave. for $10,000. The yellow, two-story home that the woman lived in since 1981 had to be destroyed and the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department ruled in early August that no structure could be rebuilt on the land situated in the path of more potential floods.
"I just wanted to be done with it," Barrett said. "I'll just take the money and run."
Barrett had received a post-flood appraisal for about $15,000. She said Manitou Springs administrator Jack Benson said $10,000 was the highest he could offer.
"I was surprised it was that low," she said, "But I also understand that the city of Manitou Springs is going through a very hard time."
Barrett said Friday that she was lucky enough to purchase flood insurance in the months leading up to a series of floods that hit Manitou Springs in July, August and September. She received a settlement and was able to purchase a new home east of Manitou, which she affectionately referred to as "my little town."
Manitou Springs plans to build a debris retention pond on the site where Barrett's house once stood.
The work will be done as part of a larger mitigation project that will also feature several steel debris nets along Williams Creek and north into Williams Canyon. The council also approved a $418,000 contract with Wright Water Engineers of Denver at Tuesday's meeting. Wright Water will design the mitigation project that is intended to keep large debris away from a 7-foot-by-7-foot culvert farther down Canon Avenue.
Manitou officials are still working to purchase more lots at the mouth of Williams Canyon to make more room for the retention pond.
Barrett said the property owner at 611 Canon Ave. refused to sell. Michael Craddock, who owns four cottages just south of 609 Canon, said he too was approached by a realtor representing the city.
"We said we would consider selling," Craddock said, noting that a formal offer has not yet been made.
Craddock added, however, that he doubts any offer Manitou Springs can make will be enough to seal the deal. But he's not worried about more flood damage to his rental cottages. Craddock believes that the elimination of Barrett's house and building a retention pond will funnel dangerous flows away from his home and into Williams Creek.
"Now that the house that was next to me is gone, I'm not sure how much risk I really have," he said.