No more movement detected after deadly Colo. mudslide
Ryan Summerlin June 21, 2014
GRAND JUNCTION — Ground sensors and cameras haven’t detected any further shifts after a massive landslide in western Colorado killed three people last month.
Officials are monitoring a 7- to 10-acre pond that formed behind a ridge of debris in the area, but the flow of water into the pond has slowed, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Thursday.
The 2.7-mile-long slide occurred May 25 on Grand Mesa about 40 miles east of Grand Junction.
“Each passing day we have a better feeling for what this thing is doing,” said Pete Baier, Mesa County’s incident operations chief. “It’s an escarpment, created like the rest of Grand Mesa. What’s unusual about this (landslide) is to see it in our lifetime.”
The slide killed Melvin Wesley Hawkins, 46, Clarence Allen “Clancy” Nichols, 51, and Nichols’ 24-year-old son, Daniel Allen Nichols.
They had been checking on irrigation problems caused by an initial slide when they were killed.
Their bodies haven’t been found. Baier said it’s unlikely any further attempts will be made to locate and excavate their remains.
Dam experts are studying the advisability of creating a channel to release water from the newly formed pond, which is estimated to be 20 to 25 feet deep. The water level is still 15 to 20 feet below the top of the debris dam.
“We’re really analyzing nature with the best tools we have,” Baier said. “We’re getting more and more comfortable it may not spill at all this summer.”
Residents along Salt Creek Road in the area of the slide have been given radios tuned to the National Weather Service to get warnings of any major storms or ground movement.
About 100 structures, including 35 houses, are located along the road, but no homes are downhill from the existing path of the landslide.