Property Acquisitions in Otero County

Background

In late April 1999, heavy rains in the southern front range of Colorado caused significant and sometimes catastrophic flooding within the Fountain Creek watershed. Fountain Creek is a tributary of the Arkansas River with its confluence at Pueblo, Colorado. In late April, a flood crest on Fountain Creek began building. It joined the main stem of the Arkansas River at Pueblo and flowed toward the City of La Junta, Colorado, sixty miles east of Pueblo. In La Junta and adjoining Otero County, residents initially felt lucky since the majority of the flooding was occurring in El Paso County over 60 miles to the northwest. But such comfort was short lived when the flood crest reached the levee on the north side of the Arkansas River at La Junta. A severely aggraded channel resulted in a reduced carrying capacity of the river and the north Arkansas River levee was breached during the early morning hours of May 2, 1999. Floodwaters of up to four feet in depth inundated the unincorporated area of Otero County known as north La Junta. The area contains over 400 residences and very few were spared the effects of floodwaters. Significant damage occurred to at least 200 residences.

Project Description

The project consisted of the acquisition and removal of 53 houses damaged by flooding. This project has eliminated repetitive damage and significant risks to public health and safety issues for this area in the future. The success of the project was totally dependent on the professional expertise and abilities of Tri-County Housing, Inc. which works with residents in Otero County. They accomplished the acquisition program with efficiency and effectiveness – under budget.

Benefits

All of the purchased properties have been dedicated as open space, thus increasing the amount of area for the retention of future floodwaters. Future considerations for parts of the area include a park.

Cost 

The total  cost of the project was $2,800,000.

Funding Sources

  • FEMA HMGP
  •  Unmet Needs
  • FEMA FMA Program
  • State of Colorado’s CDBG L