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Local schools prepare for greater flash flood risk

Two elementary schools in Waldo Canyon flood plain

Schools Prepare For Flash Flooding Risk

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - With a month or so remaining until summer vacation begins, two vulnerable schools have finalized preparations for flash flooding from the Waldo Canyon burn scar.

Howbert Elementary School in District 11 and Ute Pass Elementary School in District 14 are in the Waldo Canyon flood plain and face the greatest danger from flood damage.

Laura Tefertiller, a mother of two children at Howbert, said the school notified parents and students Thursday of its emergency plan.

"Each of our kids brought home letters detailing the plan," she said.  "Their plan is to go up the hill to 30th Street, then to a church, and then buses will transport them to Holmes Middle School.  I'm satisfied with the plan.  The school has good communication with parents."

Howbert is in front of a Camp Creek drainage channel on 31st Street, which could bring floodwaters and debris from the burn scar.

A severe flash flood last July caused damage near Ute Pass Elementary.  Floodwaters reached the school doorways but caused no serious damage.

Danny Gieck, director of buildings and grounds for District 14, said workers have built two barriers on the northwest side of the school to divert floodwaters.  He said students will remain in the building or evacuate to a church in nearby Green Mountain Falls, depending on the severity of a flood and how much advance warning school officials get.

"But our three other schools will have an issue if (U.S. 24) closes," said Gieck.  "We'll have a hard time getting kids back home."

Gieck said the Red Cross will provide help if needed, and other school districts have agreed to provide buses to get students home.

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