Six Hayden homes have 'major damage'; early estimates put town infrastructure fixes at $1.5 million
Town Officials believe the threat from Dry Creek flooding is over, but are looking to the Yampa River next.
At least six homes in Hayden are considered to have major damage based on a Red Cross assessment following the flooding of Dry Creek last month, with more considered to have either minor damage. or to have been affected.
Additionally, early estimates of damage to Town of Hayden's public infrastructure totals $1.5 million, Town Manager Mathew Mendisco told Town Council on Thursday.
“Small things that we can fix, so we’re just keeping track of our costs,” Mendisco said. “Some of the other ones are more severe and we’re not fixing them at the moment. They’re usable, but they’re not great.”
Town officials believe that the threat of flooding from Dry Creek is over, which has them now turning to the Yampa River. Recent estimates project the river could reach its peak flow on June 6, so flooding could be a risk for the next month. The town intends to leave many of its current flood mitigation measures in place for now.
Hayden Public Works Director Bryan Richards said the town’s two biggest concerns with Yampa River flooding are the water and wastewater treatment plants. Each is placed along the river’s banks. In his presentation to Town Council, Richards said he was looking at data from 2011, which ended up being considered roughly a 50-year flood. This means a flood that strong is only like two or every 100 years.
That year flows in the river just above where Elkhead Creek enters west of Hayden peaked at 13,800 cubic feet per second. Richards said the river is currently projected to peak at 10,817 cfs at that spot, though he stressed that was just a current estimate.
“Sometimes the forecast is wrong, sometimes the forecast is right on,” Richards said. “There is a certain level of unpredictability in those forecasts.”
The belief that Dry Creek flooding is over is because the floodplain that leads to the creek is relatively small and made up of largely lower elevations where snow has already melted off. While the creek does flow from the south, The Flat Tops do not drain into it, Richards said.
The town worked to pick up any sandbags residents no longer wanted over the weekend with the intention of moving them to the water and wastewater plants. Still, the water did not get high enough to negatively impact them in 2011, so Richards was hopeful it wouldn’t this year either, though there still is a lot of snow left in the mountains upstream.
While more flooding may be ahead, flood plane maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency show the risk to houses in the town from the Yampa is not necessarily widespread. Still, some sandbag barriers put in place during Dry Creek flooding are being left in place in case flooding from the Yampa swells that waterway again.
The town is also working to assess damage and find financial assistance for the flooding that has happened, which Mendisco said is more serious than anywhere else in Colorado so far this spring.
“Other places are experiencing some here and there, but it hasn’t been like what we experienced here,” Mendisco said.
Mendisco said he toured the town with officials from the federal Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Management, who are keeping an eye on damage but told him that it doesn’t yet rise to the level of a state disaster declaration.
Still, they are looking at damage across the state and when that threshold of about $8 million in damage is reached they would recommend state-level action.
“They’re building a case,” Mendisco said. “At the moment, Hayden throughout the state has experienced the most immediate flooding.”
Mendisco said Hayden is also looking into getting funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Energy Impact Fund, which can be used for disaster relief to repair infrastructure.
When it comes to relief for homeowners, Mendisco said if a larger disaster is not declared, some philanthropic organizations have reached out to potentially provide some support. While he wasn’t sure if that would be enough to help everyone fully recover, it would be some level of help.
Some residents are not seeing immense damage to their homes, but it can be somewhat costly to dry them out, Mendisco said. Service Master has been doing free home inspections, but it can be costly to run dehumidifiers, he said. Some residents have moved back in into homes even though they still need word work because they cannot afford to pay for full cleanup.
Mendisco said he is working to see where they could find funding to help these residents, but it may take some time.
“We’re trying to work with the state to see if there is anything available,” Mendisco said. “It’s kind of a wait and figure out what we can and cannot do.”