Local officials getting ready for spring floods | VailDaily.com

Local officials getting ready for spring floods

Scott N. Miller
NWS High Water SM 4-24

EAGLE COUNTY – Mike Crabtree knows the Eagle River better than most. He lives just about on top of it.From his house just outside of Eagle, Crabtree can watch the river in all its states, from frozen winter creep to full spring rush. He’s keeping a close eye on the river this year, but isn’t especially worried.”In 1996 the river met all the criteria to hit the 100-year floodplain and we were fine,” Crabtree said. “I think I’m OK this year.”But there’s a lot of water sitting on the mountains this spring. How fast it might melt, and whether the melt-off comes with rain, has local officials looking at their streams and stocking up on sandbags.Fire departments up and down the valley have bags ready to go if the water starts to rise. And the Eagle-based Greater Eagle Fire Protection District has worked out a deal with LaFarge, which runs a gravel pit at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.Greater Eagle Chief Jon Asper said if needed, LaFarge will fill cement trucks with sand and bring them wherever they’re needed. That way, bags can be filled straight from the trucks.Where those trucks might end up could be anywhere from homes along Brush Creek to the fairgrounds to Eagle’s town sewer plant.

Gypsum has laid in a supply of 5,000 bags, since there are neighborhoods in town that have flooded in past big-runoff years.In Vail, Fire Chief John Gulick is looking at Gore Creek, of course. But he’s also looking at several of the creeks that flow into it.Those familiar with runoff season are looking at what rushing water might bring with it, and where that debris might hang up.”Last year we had a beaver dam and a big cottonwood block the creek while we were out of town,” said Arlene Quenon, who lives with her husband, Max, up Brush Creek south of Eagle.A friend who was watching the house noticed the water rising, made a call and the creek was cleared out. The Quenons’ home was fine, but there was about a foot of silt in the yard and the water moved a couple of small bridges that cross an irrigation ditch on their property.”We’re not leaving town this year,” Quenon said.Fallen trees, branches and other debris worry Gulick, too.”Buffehr Creek and Red Sandstone Creek have the potential for blockages,” Gulick said. And, he added, the town and Vail Resorts are both keeping an eye on Mill Creek, which drains into Gore Creek off of Vail Mountain.

“We’re still getting ready, but we’re not there yet,” Gulick said. “I think we still have some time.”While there’s plenty of planning going on, the people contacted for this story weren’t especially worried about the prospects for flooding this year.”Water in the snow this year is about 120 percent of normal,” Eagle River Fire District Chief Charlie Moore said. “We’re not hugely concerned, unless we get warm weather and rain at the same time.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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