Flood Awareness and Preparation

Walsenburg faces the imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property from potential historical flooding resulting from the Spring Creek Fire massive burn scar in the watersheds serving the City.

 

The Spring Creek Fire led to a massive burn scar which has the potential for historical flooding in Huerfano County, La Veta and Walsenburg. Extensive flooding has already occurred in Pass Creek and Middle Creek on July 23, 2018

Federal and State experts say there is a 100% chance of some flooding in Walsenburg due to the Spring Fire burn scar. There is also a significant probability of a major flooding event occuring in any given year for the next 6 years. The only question is when it is going to happen and how severe this potentially life-threatening event will be.

Over 400 homes and properties may be subject to emergency evacuation and when flooding occurs in La Veta, the residents of Walsenburg could have a mere 2 1/2 hours advance notice.

It is essential to PREPARE NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

Pre-evacuation Registration Information

What should you expect?

  • A major flooding event could happen as early as April 1st so time is short to get ready.
  • The fire caused damage producing hydrophobic soils and reduced percolation so we can expect up to 15 times the normal flow rate in the Cuchara Basin over the next six years and it could take up to twenty years before the soil is healed.
  • In the best-case scenario only the property adjacent to the river will be flooded but in a worst-case scenario flooding could extend to the Holita ditch affecting all of downtown Walsenburg.
  • If the storm sewers become flooded forced pressure could cause flooding in unexpected areas.
  • Even if you are not in the affected area utilities could be disrupted and it could take weeks or even months before gas, water, and sewer are fully restored.
  • The risk of historical flooding may continue for several years.

What is being done now?

  • Channel Restoration is already underway thanks to Americorps volunteers.
  • Efforts are currently focused in the La Veta area and just west of Bear Creek in hopes of establishing floodplain storage between La Veta and Walsenburg to reduce the peak flow before it reaches the city.
  • Once this phase is accomplished and permission is granted by property owners the volunteers will proceed clearing the channel through Walsenburg.
  • A volunteer committee has been formed to coordinate clean-up efforts along the Cucharas River in Walsenburg. Volunteer applications are available at City Hall.
  • Preparations are being made to install several new gauges ,including at North Abeyta Creek to allow better monitoring of stream flow.
  • Preparations are being made to install a warning siren to alert residents of impending flooding. You still need to remain aware of your surroundings and may need to take action before an “official” warning is issued.
  • City Hall may be flooded so preparations are being made for a command center to ensure continuity of service. 
  • Preparations are also being made for an emergency evacuation center since the community center is in the flood zone.
  • Community meetings and outreach efforts have begun and more are being planned to keep the public informed.
  • All residents are being encouraged to be proactive about removing any debris from their property to reduce the risk to others downstream.

What can you do to get ready for this dangerous situation?

Take responsibility for your own safety!

  • Determine your risk then prepare and protect your family and property before any emergency arises. 
  • Stay informed and network with friends, family or neighbors to develop a plan that meets your individual needs and particular situation.
  • Sign up for Code Red by calling 719-738-1044 to receive emergency alerts.
  • Sign up for Pre-Evacuation Registration if you are in a high risk area.
  • Make an Evacuation Plan and prepare an Emergency Kit so you are ready to move at a moment's notice.
  • Listen for the warning siren. Be alert to your surroundings and don't take chances with your life.
  • Become “Flood Buddies” and look out for your neighbors. If possible residents in high-risk areas should partner with friends or family outside the inundation zones. 
  • Get flood insurance and if you are able, install a backflow device to prevent sewage from backing up into your home from pressure in the City Sewer system.
  • If you receive an evacuation notice lock your home and move rapidly to higher ground.
  • Be prepared to be away from your home for up to two weeks.