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Remembering Colorado floods of September 2013

Event started wet period after local wildfires

Remembering Colorado Rain, Floods of...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Many people remember record rainfall in the spring of 2015 but more damaging was heavy rain during the week of mid-September 2013 that caused severe flooding throughout the state.

The rain and flooding came after a dry period that ended with the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest wildfires in June 2012 and 2013, respectively.

In southern Colorado, the flooding was particularly devastating where creeks and streams flowed through neighborhoods and became raging rivers filled with debris.

Tonya Tapper lives along Cheyenne Creek in southwest Colorado Springs, where flooding was extensive.

"I had no damage, so that was a good thing," she said.  "But it was just the most incredible view from someone who has lived here all her life, to see Cheyenne Creek at those levels."

Tapper said most homeowners have recovered in the three years since.

"Except for one family," she said.  "It took them almost two years to get their house back together, and it's up for sale now.  I don't blame them for leaving."

An upstream tributary of the creek flows through the Seven Falls tourist attraction.  The falls sustained so much flood damage that they were closed for two years and the owners couldn't afford the repair cost.

The Broadmoor Hotel spent $12 million to acquire the property and had it ready to reopen last spring.

"The (creek) is down lower, and there's a reason for that," said Allison Scott, a Broadmoor representative.  "We had to put pipes in so that we had ways of diverting water if we had yet another 500-year flood."

Scott sad at one point, all of the water draining from cliffs above the falls combined into giant waterfall that flooded the attraction.

Much of the flood damage to public property was repaired only to be damaged again by the spring 2015 floods.

"We had 23 projects worth around about $6.4 million in damages," said Brian Olson, an administrator for El Paso County. 

Olson said federal emergency money covered most of the repair cost, but county officials found other funding sources to pay for damage on private property.

"We still have a list of people who need help," he said.  "As we find the money, we'll try to help them."

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