FOUNTAIN, Colo. - Four years after a period of record flooding began in southern Colorado, people in a Fountain neighborhood are getting help to escape its crumbling surroundings.
El Paso County commissioners unanimously accepted a federal grant of $2.8 million Thursday to help several dozen residents of the Riverside Mobile Home Park along Fountain Creek.
Residents are gradually being threatened by severe erosion on a bluff on which mobile homes and four houses are located.
The normal rate of erosion was worsened by frequent rain in the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2015.
The edge of the bluff has destroyed a road and several lots, and is dangerously close to homes.
"A lot of people came together and worked hard to make this happen," said Jim Reid, the county's public services director. "I want people to know that. They worked behind the scenes. It's been a trying situation. We're just happy that it's going to work and we're going to take care of these people the way they need to be."
County officials plan to use $2 million of the grant to acquire the property from owner Bud Calhoun.
"Everything is going OK so far," he said. "Of course, they haven't made me an offer yet. That's my only concern, that the offer is acceptable."
Residents also hope for acceptable offers from the county, as it awaits another grant to pay for relocating them to other homes.
"No one told me about any of this when I moved here a year ago," Donna Paradise said. "But the manager told me not to worry, that I wouldn't be thrown out or have to move in the next month or two. The process isn't finished yet."
Also seeking a fair offer is James Wait, who has lived at the park three times; seven years in all.
"How much I get will determine whether I move to Tennessee or Indiana," he said. "But I wouldn't be surprised if I move back to Colorado eventually. The mountains keep calling me back."
The county will use the remaining $800,000 of the grant to mitigate the erosion, a project expected to start sometime next year.
"It's a problem that got ahead of us," Reid said. "Now we need to get out in front of it."
Many of the residents rent their homes and Reid said all but a few newer mobile homes will be demolished.
"Most of the mobile homes were built before 1976 and cannot be moved according to county code," he said.
Once vacated and cleared out, the county plans to turn the property into open space.