EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Residents living along Ute Pass asked El Paso County leaders overseeing flood mitigation efforts Tuesday how they can prepare their homes for flood season.
Almost every chair was filled at the meeting hosted at Ute Pass Elementary on Tuesday evening. The Coalition of the Upper South Platte, El Paso County and Colorado Department of Transportation answered residents' questions about flood season.
Last summer, people living along Ute Pass watched cars float down Highway 24 and debris take out homes during flash floods.
El Paso County has spent $3.3 million on flood mitigations along Ute Pass. The county's storm water quality coordinator John Chavez said despite the work, he is still apprehensive about flood season. Based on questions raised during the meeting, he is not alone in his concerns.
"I think folks up here have really learned a lesson. Immediately after the fire, I think there was some denial relative to flooding but once the rains really started, they realized this was serious and they needed to take action," said Chavez.
The city of Colorado Springs is also moving ahead on flood mitigation work in preparation for flood season. Workers are clearing sediment, vegetation and loose concrete along Camp Creek between Fontanero and Bijou Streets on 31st Street.
If debris blocks culverts along Camp Creek, it will push water onto the road and homes along 31st Street. Resident Claudia Roldan said there were a lot of close calls last flood season.
An engineer with the City of Colorado Springs overseeing the project said it will improve conditions in Camp Creek this summer, but there is more work that needs to be done to keep homes safe in the area.
"The condition that it is in currently, it would not be prepared to handle a September storm like we had last year. We have a lot of concrete pulling up, potentially clogging culverts. The flood could then overtop on the roadways and then we could have some local flooding," said Ryan Phipps.
Temporary work on Camp Creek will wrap up at the end of May. City engineers have long-term plans to overhaul Camp Creek so it can withstand heavy rain in the future.