Gypsum flooding forces home to be evacuated
GYPSUM — When raging water from the Eagle River swallowed five 30-foot trees from her yard Monday night, Gypsum resident Emily Ehlert went into mama bear mode.
“It was definitely scary,” Ehlert said. “My main concern was getting my kids out of there.”
After she dropped off her sons at their dad’s house, she returned to her residence at the Riverview Mobile Home Park — but by around 10 p.m., officials told her it was best if she evacuated as well.
“It started as just a small crack in the road and then the trees and the fence went,” she said. “When I pulled up this morning, I wasn’t sure if my house would still be there in a few hours.”
Ehlert said that by Tuesday morning there was a big hole where her driveway used to be. Inside that big hole was a swirling cauldron of river water that continued to eat away at the riverbank.
“I thought I was going to lose everything when I went back home to pick up my animals,” Ehlert said. “I grabbed the animals and some important paperwork and that’s all.”
Emergency personnel and town crews have been working to stem flood waters in Gypsum for the past two days. On Monday, the river flooded the Parkview neighborhood.
Ehlert’s residence was the only evacuation from the Riverview Mobile Home Park on Tuesday, but her neighbors anxiously watched the stabilization efforts throughout the day. The high water levels eroded more than 200 yards of dirt, and the Eagle River is forecast to fall and rise a couple of more times, according to data from the National Weather Service.
“The water was within 12 feet of the rear of Emily’s trailer,” said Gypsum Public Works Director Jeff Shreeve.
Shreeve estimated the eroded area was 14 to 16 feet deep, and the crews brought in 160 yards of boulders and 200 yards of clay fill to stabilize the area. With the fill placed, crews then set to work shoring up the banks with sandbags.
Ehlert said a friend paid for her and her boys to stay at a local hotel through Friday, the Eagle County Animal Shelter agreed to house her pets, and many community members have reached out to help.
“I appreciate all the support I have gotten from my neighbors and the town,” she said. “Going through this has been really scary. It’s hard when you think you are going to lose everything you own.”
Ehlert has been awed by the massive effort underway to stabilize the river bank adjacent to her home.
“They must have made 50 dump truck drops,” she noted. “Now it’s going to be a waiting game to see what happens next. They don’t know what the river is going to do.”
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According to the New Castle Police Department’s official Facebook page, a “string of arson-related fires” have occurred in the town recently. Law enforcement believes “the fires to all be related.”