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Man's body found in Fountain Creek; U.S. Highway 24 reopens after flooding

September 12, 2013 Updated: September 12, 2013 at 7:47 am
photo - Nova Budler and her father, Michael Budler, both try to fit under the same umbrella while hurrying up Manitou Blvd. on a rainy morning in Manitou Springs..( Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)
Nova Budler and her father, Michael Budler, both try to fit under the same umbrella while hurrying up Manitou Blvd. on a rainy morning in Manitou Springs..( Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette) 

A roundup of heavy rainfall and flooding in the Pikes Peak region:

UPDATE 7:45 a.m.: The body of a man was recovered from flood waters in Fountain Creek just before 5 a.m. Thursday by the Colorado Springs Fire Department’s heavy rescue unit.

Police noticed a body floating in the creek near Nevada Avenue and Las Vegas Street while conducting flood patrols in the area around 4:15 a.m., city spokeswoman Kim Melchor said.

The man’s identity will be released after next-of-kin identification, but he was believed to be in his 50s.
The El Paso County Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy Thursday to determine the cause and manner of death, Melchor said.

Police said it was unclear where the man entered the creek.

There were no other reports of missing persons or casualties as a result of the overnight floods, but the Emergency Operations Center will monitor the weather through the day, recovery coordinator Gordon Brenner said.

Flood patrol crews from police, fire and public works worked through the night to monitor conditions and respond to potential flooding along the Westside of Colorado Springs.

“Storm systems are forecasted to continue throughout the day,” Melchor said. “Stay alert to news and weather, avoid ditches, flood waters and low-lying areas.”

Anyone with information can call police at 444-7000.     

UPDATE, 6:10 a.m.: Manitou Springs School District 14 is on a two-hour delay and there are no preschool clases Thursday because of the heavy rain.

Home delivery of The Gazette is delayed until approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Manitou Springs, the Ute Pass area and Woodland Park.

UPDATE, 5:45 a.m.: U.S. Highway 24, which was closed for several hours between Cave of the Winds and Cascade, has reopened, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

UPDATE, 5:30 a.m.: The National Weather Service has lifted the flash flood warning for Colorado Springs and El Paso County. The area remains under a flash flood watch until midnight Friday.

Flood advisories are also in effect for Teller and Fremont counties.

UPDATE, 5:20 a.m.: Our news partners at KOAA are reporting that a man's body has been recovered from Fountain Creek, near Nevada Avenue and Interstate 25.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department told KOAA that it rescued one person further upstream on Fountain Creek.

UPDATE, 3:40 a.m.: A flash flood warning for West Central El Paso County has been extended to 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service Doppler Radar indicates an area of very heavy rainfall across the region. Two to 3 1/2 inches of rain has fallen over west Colorado Springs into Ute Pass. Rainfall rates of 1 inch per hour are expected to continue producing flooding and the threat of flash flooding.

A late summer blast of monsoonal moisture brought widespread rain that filled Fountain Creek on Wednesday - closing U.S. 24 twice and renewing concerns about flooding in Manitou Springs.

Rains ground morning rush-hour traffic to a halt on Ute Pass when officials closed the highway amid flash flood warnings from 8:30 to about 10:50 a.m. The road was closed again around 9:30 p.m. after reports of heavy rain and possible flash flooding, and the Colorado Department of Transportation reported rock and debris on the highway after 10 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo said Doppler Radar indicated thunderstorms "producing very heavy rainfall across the Waldo Canyon burn scar" at 9:31 p.m., and reverse 911 warning calls and texts went out in the Manitou Springs area.

The lower Waldo rain gauge north of Manitou Springs reported 0.35 inches between 9 and 9:20 p.m.

"The ground is saturated and this rain will quickly run off," the weather service said. A flash flood warning was issued until 12:30 a.m.

Forecasters were predicting more rain Thursday - the latest threat in a monsoon season that ranks among the region's wettest on record.

Despite heavy rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday across the Waldo Canyon burn scar, the slow-moving storm inflicted little damage across flood-weary Manitou Springs during daylight hours.

Still, the rain placed residents near the burn scar on edge after a recent dry spell offered hope for an end to the unusually strong monsoon.

Only in 1999 did Colorado Springs receive more rain in July and August, according to National Weather Service records. The city received 10.33 inches of rain in that time, second most on record.

"It's nerve-wracking," said Hannah Kosobucki, manager of Good Karma Coffee Lounge & Deli, which closed for a week after flooding in August. "Every time (it rains) now we're like, 'OK, what is this going to do for us?' I'll be glad when it gets a little colder and it just snows."

Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico - along with a low-pressure system over Utah and a sweeping cold front - fed the storms, said Randy Gray, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

More than 2 inches of rain fell Tuesday through Wednesday night in upper Williams Canyon, while 1.81 inches fell in lower Waldo Canyon, according to U.S. Geological Survey rain gauges. A gauge in Manitou Springs registered 1.77 inches of rain.

Those totals happened over several hours - unlike on Aug. 9. That day, a powerful storm cell caused flooding that killed a man on U.S. 24 and damaged dozens of homes and businesses in the city.

About 9 a.m. Wednesday, water rose several feet in the creek bed leading out of Williams Canyon.

"My heart was pounding, hands were shaking," said Kim Stahlman, who lives on Narrows Road. She signed a lease beginning Oct. 1 for a home elsewhere in Manitou Springs on higher ground.

The water appeared to erode a foundation wall for the house at 3 Narrows Road, which sits at the edge of the creek, said Lise Hunt, a property manager. It's the third time this summer that she has had to file a flood insurance claim for the house.

"I certainly don't feel comfortable renting properties out to anyone," she said.

The rain and the stress it brings likely won't end soon. A high pressure system over the Great Plains will act like a "road block" to keep the monsoons in Colorado for the next few days, Gray said.

"It's been tough," said Manny Vasquez, owner of Goldminer's Nuts & Candy on Canon Avenue. The store closed for a week after the Aug. 9 flood, and his August sales were cut in half compared to last year, he said.

"Anyone that hears a flood warning is not going to come down here."


Debbie Kelley and Andrea Sinclair contributed to this story.

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