Floodwater takes toll on homes, roads

Colorado River was expected to have peaked late Tuesday

With the snowmelt-swollen Colorado River expected to crest overnight in De Beque Canyon, floodwater Tuesday began to creep into a few Mesa County residents’ homes and washed out a road in Fruita.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said authorities received their first reports of residential flooding Tuesday, with one homeowner reporting water washing over a deck on C 1/4 Road in the Rosevale neighborhood and another reporting flooding in a basement on 35 Road west of Palisade. There were no reports of significant damage.


Farther to the west, the river topped its banks near 16 Road and eroded portions of the dirt road that dead-ends at Interstate 70. Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney said crews with the county and United Companies of Mesa County, which had previously conducted mining operations at a nearby gravel pit, constructed a temporary dike to prevent further flooding and protect a high-pressure gas line and a sewer line underneath the road.

The county Road and Bridge Department closed the end of Dike Road, which leads into the Connected Lakes Section of the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. Both the park, which also is closed, and the end of Dike Road are overrun by water.

In preparation for incidents that could arise from flooding, county emergency management officials Tuesday set up a temporary emergency-operation center at the Sheriff’s Department and staffed it with emergency dispatchers, deputies, Search and Rescue volunteers and employees from the Health and Road and Bridge departments.

Benjamin said creating a single operation center ensures officials have the same information at the same time and can respond quickly if a situation arises that threatens property or lives.

“We know there are some areas (that are) going to have significant flooding,” she said. “Whether there’s an incident because of that significant flooding, that remains to be seen.”

Also Tuesday, Palisade town officials said the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival will go on as scheduled this weekend in Riverbend Park.

River water has spilled into the far west end of the park, where some attendees camped last year. That prompted the town to shift the festival site to the east.

Town Administrator Tim Sarmo said the area where the stage and audience were located last year is dry, and the festival probably can stay put. But not knowing for certain when the river will peak in that area or what the highs will be this weekend, officials decided to move the festival a couple hundred yards.

“It was really a pretty simple adjustment made more as a precautionary, just-in-case (measure),” he said.

A pair of flood warnings remain in effect for the Colorado River in Mesa County: one for the section at Cameo through Friday afternoon and another for the section near the Utah state line through Thursday afternoon. By early Tuesday evening, the river at Cameo was at 13.3 feet, nearly a foot above flood stage. At the state line, the water had risen to 14.5 feet, about a half-foot below flood stage, according to the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.

A flood warning also is in effect for the Colorado River in Garfield and Eagle counties. Flooding in Rifle forced the Colorado Department of Transportation to close the rest area at mile marker 90 on I-70 and state maintenance crews to build a 4-foot-high, quarter-mile-long berm on the south side of the river to protect properties in the area, CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.



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