Valley officials prepare for possible spring flooding

By Pat Bingham
Real AspenMay 18, 2011

Record high snow pack this past winter has emergency management officials in Pitkin County, the city of Aspen and towns of Snowmass and Basalt gearing up for possible flooding this runoff season.

The Roaring Fork River in Basalt.
Troy Hooper

Officials are closely monitoring water levels, snowmelt and weather. Officials will be standing by for possible evacuations and emergency sandbagging if warm, wet weather should combine with snowmelt causing area creeks and rivers to overflow in the peak weeks to come.

 A multi-agency Incident Management team has been formed to coordinate planning and emergency response should flooding occur. Officials from the City of Aspen, Towns of Snowmass and Basalt, Pitkin and Eagle Counties are working together to supply information to the public about snowmelt conditions and emergency preparedness. Officials will be using information supplied by the National Weather Service, Water Conservation Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and local  river “spotters” to be proactive about when  and if water levels could begin to cause problems.

 “Our biggest concerns are low lying areas in Lazy Glen and Basalt – especially the trailer parks adjacent to the Roaring Fork below the confluence,” said Stu Curry of the Basalt Police Department who is leading the Incident Management Team. “Our team will be in contact with trailer park owners and homeowners associations to remind them to be prepared,” Curry said.

 Pitkin County and Basalt Public Works Departments will drop sand and sandbags at both low-lying trailer parks in Basalt – the Pan and Fork and Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park. Sand and sandbags will also be dropped at Elk Park in Redstone.

 “We hope only residents who really feel there could be a direct threat to their homes in these areas will avail themselves of the sand and sandbags we provide. Others should purchase sand and sandbags from outlets online or at local hardware stores,” Curry said.

 The goal of the combined flood management effort is to help citizens help themselves. In the event of flooding emergencies, the priority of rescue personnel will be to respond to health and life safety issues. Residents in low-lying areas that are able are expected to prepare themselves and their property for the advent of flooding.

 “We recommend that everyone take this opportunity to sign up for Pitkin Alert. Should flooding be eminent Pitkin Alert members may receive alerts  via email and text messages,” Curry said. "If evacuations are necessary or other flooding related emergencies occur residents will be notified with the reverse 911 system or with door-to-door warnings."

Preparedness Tips

- Listen to local radio, tune in to local television, read local newspapers for emergency advisories, updates and instructions.

- Sign up for Pitkin Alert

- Call the local Spring Run off hotline: 429-1800 for information

- Know what the weather is doing. Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather information.

- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground.

- If you have natural gas or propane appliances, try to turn off the electric power to the house at the outside electrical panel.

- Stay away from ground level transformers that are inundated by flood waters.

- Keep children and pets away from fast moving or high water.

- Do not camp or park you vehicle along streams and washes.

- If kayaking or rafting during runoff, watch for logs and floating debris.

- Prepare family 72 hr survival kits with essential food, water and supplies for at least three days. The kit should be kept in a designated place and be ready to “grab and go” in case you must leave your house quickly.

- Purchase sandbags and sand at most local hardware stores.

- If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it – it may contain hazardous materials. Never drive through flooded roadways If you car stalls, abandon it immediately. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle could be fatal.

- Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines.

- Kayakers and rafters should report overturned “runaway” boats to authorities to let them know whether or not a rescue is needed.

- Report flood related emergencies by calling 911.


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