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Flood maps being prepared for Manitou Springs businesses

Flood maps for Manitou Springs businesses in the works

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The plan in Manitou Springs following two floods so far this summer is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. The next step in that plan is still a few weeks away.

Right now, the police, fire officials and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte are preparing maps for businesses, police and firefighters that will give everyone a better idea of where to go in the event of a flood instead of the generic call to head up, not out.

"The maps will show how to react," said Theresa Springer, education director for the CUSP.

The group has extensive experience with flash floods. It's been more than a decade since the Hayman Fire scorched 138,114 acres and burned 133 homes. In its wake, it left many flash flood issues that the CUSP has learned from, and CUSP is now helping other communities learn from.

Still, Manitou Springs remains in control of its emergency plan.

"We're using their incident action plan and combining it with GIS -- Geographic Information System," said Springer.

The idea is to help businesses, police, fire and public works responders understand the high-risk spots and determine how to escape danger in vulnerable spots.

But for some shop owners along Canon Avenue, the emergency plan is simple.

"If the sirens go off, we just go to higher ground," said Michele O'Brien, owner of Silver Sparrow Beads.

O'Brien is worried about all the attention from the media on the flooding risk. She wants the public to know that the warning system in town is sound, and the area is safe.

"Manitou Springs is doing a wonderful job keeping us safe," said O'Brien. "The city is doing  good."

David Hunting, a spokesman for the Manitou Springs Fire Department, said the maps are still a few weeks away from completion.  He added that State Emergency Office went over officials' response to the floods during two separate meetings. The results of those evaluations should be available in two weeks.

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