Governor Declares Disaster Emergency For El Paso County


As devastating floods continue to target areas near the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest burn scars, Gov. John Hickenlooper has declared a disaster emergency for El Paso County.

Rain has pounded the county throughout the last several weeks, taking a deadly turn Friday after rain and mud spilled onto Highway 24 and into Manitou Springs. One man was killed, three were initially unaccounted for, and multiple people reported nearly being swept away. El Paso County and the city of Manitou Springs requested state assistance the following day, which Hickenlooper immediately approved.

Monday’s storm created no major flow of debris and muck like the one seen last Friday. Some businesses in Manitou Springs still saw some minor flooding.

The afternoon rain caused Fountain Creek to climb the banks along the Fountain Creek RV Park near 31st and Colorado Boulevard, causing police to sound the alert.

“They came and said it's a mandatory evacuation because of flash flooding," said Mark Bates who lives in the park.

Officials took no chances, keeping drivers off Highway 24 for about an-hour-and-a-half until the threat was over.

"We've been here since 2:30,” said Melissa DeHerrera as she sat stopped near Cascade. “I'm thinking it'd be nice to go home."

Those watching closely still say the real threat, of more flooding, is still nowhere near over.

The following is a release from the state about what the disaster emergency declaration means for the county:

Gov. John Hickenlooper declared a disaster emergency related to flooding in recent days in El Paso County. The declaration will make resources available to remove flooding debris and provide flood emergency protective measures.

El Paso County and the City of Manitou Springs on Aug. 10 requested the state assistance. The governor gave verbal approval on the same day.

The governor authorized $400,000 be transferred into the Disaster Emergency Fund from the General Fund appropriation in Fiscal Year 2013-14 to the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund. The director of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management will direct and allocate the funding to the appropriate government agencies to address the disaster.

The governor also activated the State Emergency Operations Plan to address the flooding. The activation requires all state departments and agencies to take whatever actions may be required and requested by the director of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, including provision of appropriate staff and equipment as necessary.

The governor further authorized the Colorado National Guard to assist with search and rescue missions in the area, if necessary, as more rain continues to fall.

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