Washed out

Melting snow leaves neighborhood stranded

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6:30 a.m. Thursday

Tyler Correia wakes up.

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It's earlier than he normally gets up, but he has apprehensions about what lays ahead.

The feeling proves correct after he walks out of his Crooked Creek Drive home at 7.

The culvert on Crooked Creek Drive by County Road 15 is washed out.

In other words, it's gone.

Instead of a flooded road, which neighbors have dealt with all week, there is now what he estimates to be an 8-foot ditch with water running 3 to 3 1/2 feet deep.

He walks downstream to find a spot to cross.

There isn't one.

He walks upstream to a neighbor's fenced yard, where he finds a path where some of the ice has held up. He tests the water. It is half an inch deep.

At first.

He begins to cross, but the farther he wades across, the deeper it gets, up to more than a foot.

He wishes he had his boots.

There is no stopping now. He goes all the way across.

He then begins the walk to his car. From his house to where his car is homed on high ground, he estimates it's three-fourths of a mile.

"I always park my car on the other side (of the culvert) because the culvert might go," he says.

After the 17-minute walk to his car, he makes the more than 12-mile drive to Craig to start his workday at Rocky Mountain TLC.

Noon

Fran Davis, Tyler's mother, is calling every place she can think of to get help.

She's calling on her cell phone, because the landline has been knocked out because of the flooding.

She calls the Road and Bridge Department.

She calls emergency management.

"I can't get an answer," she says.

She calls the governor's office.

"They told me he is very busy and he has a full agenda," she said. "That it is the county's responsibility."

Her next call will be to the county commissioners, hoping that they will do something.

"I'm begging for help," she says. "We're stranded here.

"We have problems every spring but nothing to this size. We work on it every year. ... There have been some flash foods, and we put in some rocks and some stones, but this year is different ... It's really quite different."

Unlike her son, Davis is unwilling to brave the waters. She notes this is not the first time she's been stranded.

"You heard of the 10-year flood?" she says. "This is our 10-year flood," saying that was the last time the culvert was completely wiped away.

Correia estimates it was closer to seven years ago, but both of them remember what transportation across the ditch came down to: A canoe.

2:30 p.m.

More phone calls with little response.

The land is considered private and the county is under no obligation to fix it.

"We're classified as an access road even though they labeled it," Correia said. "They only maintain up to (a certain point)."

Still, county commissioner Saed Tayyara says it is a problem that needs to be looked at.

"If it's a danger and unsafe we have to make it safe," he said. "If the public at large uses that road, we have to help those people."

The good news for Davis is the landlines are working again and they have found a back road open through BLM land.

The bad news?

"If it rains, it's not going to do us much good," she said.

6:30 p.m.

Roughly 10 neighborhood families meet by where the culverts use to be. They discuss what to do now.

There have been some conversations with county about a possible fix. Correia says the county has agreed to replace one of the two culverts and push some dirt over the rest so residents can have access.

"Two culverts couldn't handle it," Correia points out.

Davis says the county is going to get back to them Monday to see what the families decide.

The families agree more needs to be done. The phone will get used again, as calls are made to get estimates from private contractors and see what they can afford.

"We all agreed that we have to do something that is a permanent fix," Davis says.

That could take some time.

And for Correia that means setting the alarm early again.

"I'm going to have to," he says, pointing out that he's going to have to find a place to cross the watery ditch and make the walk to his car.

But at least this time, he says, he has his boots to cross the water.

Jerry Raehal can be reached 970-824-7031, ext. 204, or at jraehal@craigdailypress.com

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