Craig With historic flooding ravaging the Front Range and northern Colorado throughout the past week and a half, Northwest Colorado has lent a helping hand to its fellow statesmen in the east, from afar and on site.
During the weekend, 30 individuals mobilized from the northwest part of the state to Boulder and Larimer counties to assist in relief efforts. A 20-person, interagency crew from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service deployed to Boulder County to aid in relief efforts. Two other Type 2 crews also were dispatched, working in safety, food preparation and operations.
Two of the 30 people from Northwest Colorado are helicopter crew members, and two contractors sent water trucks to help.
“I don’t know what their specific assignments are, and it’s likely they’ll change over time,” said Lynn Barclay, spokeswoman for BLM. “But they’ll help coordinate the management of response efforts, and it will probably be a longer duration. They will probably be there at least two weeks.”
The majority of hazard response efforts in Northwest Colorado are wildland fires, but teams from this part of the state are trained for all types of response, Barclay said. There are basic needs that go into every lengthy response effort, such as food, shower units, portable toilets and collaborative planning, which all teams can help with, she said.
“With any natural disaster, it demonstrates the potential for magnitude and the need for cooperation and collaboration between federal, state and local agencies,” Barclay said. “These can exceed local capability quickly just in terms of magnitude, not in terms of skill or expertise. So when that happens, it’s nice to have these other teams available.”
Meanwhile, there are relief efforts being carried out from home, as well. At the Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn and Suites in Craig, donations for a flood relief effort organized by The Steamboat Institute are being accepted through Wednesday. Frank Moe, the hotel owner and manager, said there was positive response as the word spread Monday.
“We’ve gotten calls in the past few hours asking about it,” Moe said. “That’s one of the great things about Moffat County is people always give.”
The floods have claimed six lives and left more than 1,200 people unaccounted for as of Sunday. They have destroyed more than 1,500 homes and damaged more than 17,000 more, with rains continuing to fall, leaving a lengthy recovery process ahead.
“My thoughts and prayers are with all who have been impacted by the flooding in our state, and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones,” U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said in an email to the Craig Daily Press. “My office continues to closely monitor the situation and the Colorado Congressional delegation is working to ensure that resources are available to aid in recovery efforts.”
Moffat County has not experienced heavy rains in the same way as Weld, Boulder and Larimer, but it has been a wet September. Craig has measured 2.12 inches of rain so far in September, compared to the 1.6 inches it typically receives in the entire month, according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Grand Junction.
The rain is expected to end soon, however. NWS Meteorologist Joe Ramey said the monsoonal moistures in Northwest Colorado are expected to be pushed southeast and back into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week, creating a drier climate in Craig.
“The cold front should usher in a much drier air mass,” Ramey said. “It will feel very fall-like to folks. Generally as we start into this fall pattern, it looks very dry to us.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com