PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - Six roads closed by flooding in eastern Pueblo County on Wednesday have reopened, but two likely will remain closed as cleanup work continues.
The county's public works department says Nepesta Road between U.S. 50 and Highway 96, along with Boone Hill East Road, likely will remain closed for up to two weeks as workers repair washed-out sections of those roads.
Nepesta Road was affected by a break in the nearby Highline Canal, which brings water from the Arkansas River to local farmers.
"We went out and shut off our (canal) so we had no water flowing in it," said Dan Henrichs, the canal supervisor. "Before the rain, it usually has around 120 cubic feet per second flowing in it. The maximum capacity is 500 cfs, but there might have been 1,000 cfs at the time of the flood."
Henrichs said the canal was flooded by runoff from surrounding fields that have little or no vegetation because of drought. The canal broke, he said, in an area where the high water eroded a levee.
"I've been the superintendent for 13 years and it's never happened," said Henrichs. "I've seen rain events but nothing like this."
Henrichs said workers will likely straighten a bend in the canal where the levee broke. He said the canal was built in the 1880s and poses little danger to surrounding residents because the area is sparsely populated. The flood didn't keep residents from getting into and out of their properties, he said.
The flood also damaged shoulders along U.S. 50. A Colorado Department of Transportation crew is repaving those shoulders with fresh asphalt.
"I'd say there's a half-mile altogether," said CDOT supervisor Chuck Decker. "The flood also took out a section of guardrail. It'll probably take a few weeks to get everything back in shape."
Henrichs said a neighbor's rain gauge measured six inches during an hour on Wednesday.
"I've been with the county for 25 years and I've never seen water like that," said Donald Maldonado, a member of the county's public works crew. "There's a lot of work to do. Hopefully we won't get too much more rain that washes out the work we do."
Along Business U.S. 50, also called Santa Fe Drive, many culverts were filled with debris and sediment by the flood.