Federal funds aid Eagle-Vail flood project
October 9, 2013
$240,000: FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance program, through the Colorado Division of Local Affairs.
$30,000: Eagle County’s Capital Improvements Program Funding.
Eagle-Vail is home to approximately 4,000 people.
EAGLE-VAIL — A $300,000 project will keep local homes safer if an Eagle-Vail creek floods.
Eagle-Vail and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will shift Stone Creek's drainage away from homes and across the golf course to the Eagle River. The golf course will be a relief valve to allow the water to flow across the fairway instead of flooding people's homes.
"It is much cheaper to have to clean up mud and debris from a flooding event off of a golf course fairway, as opposed to pumping out basements," said Greg Schroeder, Eagle County senior engineer.
FEMA flood map
It began as a simple home financing project for one Eagle-Vail resident, but became a flood issue for the whole community.
Eagle-Vail's Elk Lane runs below Sugar Loaf Mountain and above the golf course. FEMA's flood zone maps date back to the 1980s and said about 48 of the homes in that area were in Stone Creek's high risk flood zone.
Those inaccurate maps meant that people buying, selling and refinancing property were being required to buy flood insurance.
So, when the maps were reworked to include calculations for things like topography, 12 structures were in the high risk area. When the mitigation project finishes, there should be four structures left in the high risk zone and 10 structures in a moderate risk zone.
"This has been an ongoing issue for Eagle-Vail residents in the last five or six years, since flood issues have been brought into the public spotlight," said Jeff Layman, Eagle-Vail community manager.
Maps and mitigation
Schroeder helped Eagle-Vail apply for the grant. Longmont is the only other Colorado city to receive this flood zone mitigation grant from FEMA in the past year.
Mueller Engineering in Lakewood built a flood mitigation project that worked exceptionally well during last month's massive floods.
Reworking the FEMA flood zone maps cost $50,000. Colorado Water Conservation Board, Eagle County picked up half that tab; the Eagle-Vail metro board and the property owners association paid for the rest.
"The great thing about this grant is that FEMA prefers to spend money before disasters occur, rather than after, and that's exactly what Eagle-Vail is doing with this project," Schroeder said.
When this project is completed later this fall, nearly all of the Eagle-Vail homeowners will be out of the flood plain, Layman said.
"We want the people to know that work being done around the golf course is not improving the golf course per se, but making the homeowners less prone to flooding," Layman said.
If your property is in a flood zone, the National Flood Insurance Act requires you to buy flood insurance. But anyone can purchase flood insurance.
"Many of the homes and businesses that were recently flooded on the Front Range did not have flood insurance, because they were told that they were not in a flood zone and therefore did not need flood insurance," Schroeder said.
The perception is that flood insurance is only necessary and available if somebody, usually the bank, tells you that you need it.
"The truth of the matter is that flooding can happen to anyone," Schroeder said. "More than 20 percent of flood claims come from policies that are outside of the high risk areas."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.