Flash flood leaves a mess

Witness describes ‘wall of water' during rainstorm

Peggy Rutherford surveys the debris collected on her property off Dave Wood Road Thursday August 5, 2010. Her camper, right, and other property were caught up in the flood.

MONTROSE — Darin Flora grinned Thursday when he spoke of the “wall of water” he encountered. It probably wasn’t a smile gracing his face, though, when the workings of a flash flood sent him scurrying for higher ground a day earlier.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Flora said, he left his Montrose home for an afternoon walk. Seeing the dark skies to the south, he put on a rain suit and began walking down into Tappan Canyon, a sandstone wash that runs behind his house.

The annual monsoon season of western Colorado had brought enough rain in an otherwise dry canyon to start a two-inch flow of water over the rocks. Soon the flow began to pick up and led Flora to turn around to see what was happening behind him, at which point he said he saw a wall of water 10 feet tall and more than 30 feet wide headed his way. So, he scampered up the east side of the canyon and watched as a river of thick mud crashed past him, ripping apart trees and toppling large boulders, some as large as a Volkswagen Beetles, downstream.

“I saw the rush of water, and there were logs sticking out,” he said. “If I hadn’t turned around, it would have been real close.”

Watching from a distance at their home, Darin’s parents, Dean and Analee Flora, saw the flow and realized their son was down in the canyon.

“They kept calling me, wanted to know where I was,” Darin said.

Darin was stuck on the east side of the canyon, opposite his house, for more than an hour watching the flow. He said he could not recall seeing such an event before.

About 200 yards downstream, Evan and Cheri Howard’s house sits along the same canyon. Cheri watched from a covered porch as the flash flood began to take shape, all the while hoping her garden would survive.

“It was exciting,” she said. “All I could hear was the sound of large boulders crashing underneath the water.”

A quarter-mile downstream from the Howard’s home, Jo Ades witnessed the flash flood’s effects near her home of 13 years.

“I went to bring some potting soil in from the rain ... I was gone five minutes, and when I returned the water was up to my car,” she said.

The water at that point was nearly 200 feet wide and some three to four feet deep spanning from the pavement of Dave Wood Road, to the back tires of Ades’s Buick, she said.

“It was horrendous,” she said.

Ades’ daughter Peggy Rutherford, who lives with her mother, came home from work later that night to find trees and mud covering her lawn. Her 25-foot-long camper was sitting in the driveway, and a duck boat with multiple bikes formed a debris pile near her front lawn.

“It was a mess,” she said.

Flora, the Howards and Ades all said they saw the rush happen at approximately 4 p.m.

According to a news release from Montrose County, road and bridge crews started working to clean debris around 10 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Dave Wood Road and Cedar Road.

Anybody reporting flood damage is encouraged to call 970-249-5424.


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