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Residents seeing red after flooding

Lynn Burton

Heavy rains on Red Mountain Thursday at lunch time caused a flash flood that damaged three homes, and forced the evacuation of the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

Residents up Mitchell Creek in West Glenwood, who have been evacuated several times since the Coal Seam wildfire, were not affected.

“The hardest part of the rain was on Red Mountain,” said Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson. “On Mitchell Creek it was fairly light.”

Wilson said he’d been told the flooding in the Red Mountain residential neighborhood occurred after a culvert above Red Mountain Drive got jammed with debris.

“So some of the water found its own path down,” Wilson said.

One house hit with water and mud belongs to Candy and Paul Brachle at 913 Red Mountain Drive.

“We got the brunt,” Candy said, after the rain had turned to sprinkles. City employees shoveled mud from the street in front of her house.

The water and mud oozed into the bottom floor of her house through window wells, and covered the floors in three rooms. A quick-thinking police officer entered the house and put two sandbags in a doorway to keep the water from spreading to the front of the two-story house.

“The policemen were so helpful,” Brachle said. “They helped us move things. … They got covered with mud from handing me stuff.”

Brachle said she was away when the flood hit, and her neighbor, Johanna Kemp, saw what was happening.

“She saw our patio filled with water and ran over here. Thank God she did,” Brachle said.

Brachle said she and her husband operate a drapery business in the downstairs part of their house, and if not for Kemp’s actions, the damage would have been worse. Brachle said in 25 years in her house, she had never been flooded.

“We thought we escaped the fires, and now we have this … but it could have been worse,” Brachle said.

Across the street at 918 Red Mountain Drive, Jon and Mary Lou Dunbar’s house escaped the flood, thanks in part to a line of sandbags that ran half way across their driveway and diverted the water away from their low-lying front yard.

As Brachle continued assessing her damage, Mary Lou Dunbar and her neighbors shoveled mud from her driveway. “This is the first time this has happened,” said Dunbar, who has lived in her house since 1993.

While Dunbar, Brachle and others in their Red Mountain neighborhood cleaned up Thursday afternoon, the last riders in a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle rally eased their big bikes out of the Community Center and onto Midland Avenue.

Before the rains, dozens of motorcyclists were using the Community Center parking lot for a cookout. Club members were shopping at vendors’ tables, getting their bikes pin-striped, and comparing notes about the Gold Wing Road Riders Association’s annual tour. The party ended early due to the evacuation notice, and by 12:45 p.m. most of the riders were gone.

“It rained pretty heavy for 10 or 12 minutes,” said vendor Steve Meier as he and son Jim loaded up their goods and prepared to head out.

The Community Center is located on Midland Avenue at the base of Red Mountain, about a half-mile west from where the Red Mountain Drive flooding occurred, and just east of an alluvial fan that marks debris flows that have occurred for hundreds of years.

Wilson called the Community Center “an island” between the two points. While Red Mountain Drive was being flooded, water was flowing through the alluvial fan and across a short section of Midland.

“We thought it was a good idea to get those folks out of there, before it became a problem getting them out,” Wilson said of the Community Center evacuation.

The motorcyclists were a primary concern. “Motorcycles aren’t exactly the vehicle to be on for getting through mud and debris,” Wilson said.

At press time, Wilson said he expected the Community Center to be reopened at 5 or 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The facility suffered no apparent damage.


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