Mitchell Creek area held hostage by mud | PostIndependent.com
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Mitchell Creek area held hostage by mud

Dale Shrull

Mitchell Creek area held hostage day 7, 8 , 9 .

The reverse 911 call came, but I wasn’t home. The message was left innocently on the recorder. The emergency broadcast warning blared through the radio speakers in my car. Blood pressure did a comparable impression of the Old Faithful geyser.

Flash flood warning, evacuate now!

I talked my way past a road block and finished the evacuation packing. Our bags and valuables have been packed away safely in our vehicles for weeks now. The plan is very simple from this point on – grab the cat, a hat and scat.

This was a dry run. No rain fell and no mud flowed. There would be a second dry run a few days later. There may be more.

It’s hard to get back to normal with the mystery of the mudslides hanging over our heads.

Thanks to the Coal Seam Fire, and the destruction it created in West Glenwood, anxiety has also packed a bag and hopped in the car with residents of West Glenwood.

Fire anxiety has now turned to water and mud anxiety for we folks in the Mitchell Creek area. But this threat is such an unknown to many of us. What do we expect? What should we expect? How bad could it be? Will it be?

I have a strange philosophy. On June 8, I opened our front door and saw flames a short distance away. So, as far as I’m concerned – flames bad – water good.

However, I know the power that a debris-filled mudslide possesses. I witnessed the aftermath of the mudslides caused from the Storm King fire. Mud and fire debris – bad.

Looking at the sky almost daily now, I wonder if rain will fall, if mud will flow, if I will scat.

Work crews have prepared the region for the impending mud flow. Big concrete Jersey barriers have cut Donegan Road down to one, eerie lane.

We all know that mud will flow and we will have to go. But we’re now faced with an interesting bunch of hopes. For this entire summer we have baked under the sun. We have hoped for rain. Water to cool us off, moisture to soak into the hard ground and rain to add diversity to our hot summer.

Now, when the clouds that have been vacationing elsewhere this summer, return to our skies, the temperatures go down and our anxiety goes up. When those dark bloated clouds release a drop our two, our nerves claw at our bellies.

Suddenly, rain is bad. Rain that could have helped our firefighters during the devastating blazes, is now the enemy of our neighborhood.

But it will come, mud will flow, and I will have to go. And I will hope for the best in this great unknown mystery of rain, debris, mud and gravity.

Our hope is that rain will fall in small amounts. A little at a time. But I don’t think that will matter. The big one – and it will come soon – is what will create the slide. A gully washer as it was known to me as a young’un. A powerful rainstorm that will wash out a gully like the pool’s water tube spitting out a 5-year-old.

It will come. My new hope is that I want it to happen soon. Get it over with – answer this anxiety-filled mystery for me and my neighbors.

So we wait – held hostage at Mitchell Creek. Never venturing too far from home. Always watching the skies. Just wanting to get it over with. Get this mystery solved with one big storm.

I’m afraid there will be more dry runs. Clouds will arrive, evacuations will be ordered and nothing will happen. Back home, only to be held hostage for a few more days. Some residents will grow tired of the evacuations. The “cry wolf” scenario will increase with every evacuation order.

So, we wait.

Waiting for what we know will happen. Waiting for the worse and hoping for the best.

With the fire, I had little time to think, I just reacted and bolted for safety.

With the impending mudslides, I’m packed and ready to go, but I have to wait. Wait for the clouds to open and pelt us with rain. Waiting to see if the mud and debris will wreak havoc or be tamed by the Jersey barriers.

For now, we will wait and wait, and hope for the best.

The plan is set.

Grab the cat, a hat and scat.

Mitchell Creek held hostage day 10, 11, 12, 13 .

Dale Shrull is the editor of the Citizen Telegram. Contact him at 625-3245; e-mail to dshrull@cmnm.org; or mail to Box 111, Rifle, CO 81650.


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