Canon City under flood warning, first responders prepare for rising waters

Video Canon City first responders prepare for the worst on the Arkansas River

CANON CITY, Colo. - Canon City and parts of Fremont County are currently under a flood warning. With rain incoming this weekend, first responders are preparing for the worst case scenarios along the Arkansas River. 

Low flood plain areas of Canon City are at minor risk of flood damages this weekend if the Arkansas River gets higher than ten feet. 

However, first responders' greatest concern isn't so much the river level, but the people coming to check it out. 

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the Arkansas River is at 9.5 feet and flowing at 4,700 cubic feet per second (CFS). It is expected to get stronger from the rains and future snowmelt off the mountains.  

Canon City firefighters prepare for river rescues in the Arkansas all year round, but this strong river presents a new set of challenges. 

"If you fall into the river you can be completely out of sight within a few seconds," said Lt. Shane Roberts with the Canon City Fire Department.

Thursday, Roberts and several other firefighters were surveying the banks of the Arkansas River for strainers. Anything people could get caught on if they were floating downstream. 

"All that extra water is coming from somewhere," said Roberts. "Whenever it rains it washes all kinds of things into the rivers so as we are standing here you can see trees going by, stumps, culverts and debris of every kind."

With rain and potential flooding in the forecast for the weekend, water rescues are handled a little differently. 

"If we get a report of someone being in the river then we are going to throw more resources at it immediately," said Roberts. "So with the added resources, we will send people to where the incident happened, but we have to send people quite a ways downstream as well. If it happened here, in no time at all it's going to be downstream."

The National Weather Service says there are some concerns for flooding in Canon City, however, the chance of floods being devastating is unlikely. 

The largest immediate concerns are the burn scars, such as the Spring and Hayden Pass scars. 

Heavy rains in the mountain would force the snow to begin melting rapidly, and could cause serious flooding problem on the Arkansas and neighboring streams as well.

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