Flooding in Hayden puts Moffat County on high alert | CraigDailyPress.com

Flooding in Hayden puts Moffat County on high alert

Dylan Anderson, Tom Skulski and John F. Russell
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Flood water from Dry Creek surrounds this home at the corner of Washington Ave. and Sixth Street in downtown Hayden Thursday, April 13, 2023. The high waters also closed the bridge that carries traffic from U.S. 40 over Dry Creek, which was closed by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Hayden resident Jordan Worden woke up to a call from a friend around 2 a.m. Thursday, April 13, and sprinted out of bed.

“My boots, of course, were floating in the garage,” Worden said. “I had to run out barefoot to grab my sump pump, and thank God I did, because my house would have been much worse.”

Hayden’s Dry Creek certainly didn’t live up to its name Thursday, as flash flooding from melting snow crested its banks around midnight. The floodwaters closed streets, Hayden Valley Schools, town parks and a 38-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 40 to start the day.

With rain and snow in the forecast for Friday, April 14, officials from Craig and Moffat County are trying to get ahead of any potential flooding issues downriver, and elected officials in Moffat met with representatives from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and the county’s and city’s road and bridge departments on Thursday to discuss how potential flooding issues could affect Moffat.

The primary areas of concern for Moffat were the low-lying places near Fortification Creek in Craig. This includes 17th Street on the north, east to Lincoln Street, west to Rose Street and south to First Street.

Fortification Creek had not escaped its banks in that area by Thursday evening, but after seeing what happened in Hayden earlier in the day, Moffat County officials are taking precautions to guard against the possibility for more flooding.

Fortification Creek off Stock Drive north of Craig looks more like a lake than it does a creek on Thursday evening, April 13, 2023. After widespread flooding hit Hayden on Thursday, Moffat County officials are trying to prepare for potential flooding issues downriver.
Bonnie Stewart/Craig Press

The good news might be that colder temps were expected to arrive after midnight Thursday, and the cooler weather is forecast to continue throughout the weekend.

As part of the preparation effort, Craig’s and Moffat County’s road and bridge crews started building sand berms in the 500 and 600 blocks of Lincoln Street.

Crews have also begun filling sandbags, which are available at the Craig Road and Bridge shop at 1710 N. Yampa Ave., and at the City Park north parking lot. Residents in the immediate area of concern are welcome to pick up sandbags from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Residents outside the area of concern can also pickup sandbags in limited numbers if the need arises. Call Craig Road and Bridge at 970-824-4463 to make arrangements to pick up sandbags.

More than 1,000 sandbags were given out Thursday. Craig Fire was helping fill the sandbags and will distribute them Friday.

Residents outside the area of concern are also allowed to pick up sandbags in limited numbers if the need arises. People may call Craig Road and Bridge at 970-824-4463 to make arrangements to get sandbags.

Flooding washes into Craig

Water continued to rise in Craig and Moffat County on Thursday night and was affecting numerous county roads and city streets. Affected roads included:

• Barclay and Heather streets are closed north of Elmwood.

• County Road 30 at mile marker 1.5 will be closed until late Friday

• C.R. 78 is open to residents only.

• C.R. 18S and CR 89 are closed until further notice

Craig Road and Bridge was able to clear culverts along North Yampa, and Moffat County Road and Bridge was working to replace and add culverts on the impacted roads.

The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Craig Police Department is asking people not drive through the flood areas and avoid them at all costs.

While preparations were taking place in Moffat, many Hayden residents — whether they are new to town or have spent decades in the Yampa Valley — said they had never seen flooding like this before. While for part of the morning there was a true sense of panic in Hayden, many residents were quick to pump water out of their houses, and their neighbors were ready to help.

Dry Creek Park was closed as the creek’s flows reached the underside of a bridge in the area and construction equipment was employed to keep the waterway free from debris that could have made the flooding worse.

While Thursday’s flooding was significant, officials expect flooding to continue as snow keeps melting. Water in Dry Creek was starting to rise again Thursday evening.

“We were expecting that this would happen,” Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco said. “It was a nice day today, wind blew a little bit, perfect melting conditions, (and there is) plenty of snow where this all really originated.”

Mendisco was hopeful that flooding wouldn’t be quite as bad in the coming days because colder temperatures in the forecast may slow the snowmelt. But the weather looks to warm up again next week.

“It’s massive melting of snow that’s in a very specific area that channels to Dry Creek,” Mendisco said. “All those things that have washed out are washing together in areas of Dry Creek Park, which is good because nobody lives there. That’s fine, Dry Creek Park can wash out. We can rebuild that.”

Two elderly residents on the south side of U.S. 40 needed to be evacuated from their homes on Thursday. They were brought to the Hayden Center, which is being used as a shelter for people in need.

The Hayden Wastewater Treatment Plant neared its capacity on Thursday, though Mendisco said town officials were able to keep things working properly. Routt County Public Works also brought in additional pumps to ensure the ones in use at the plant were not overtaxed.

“We were basically at 105% (capacity),” Mendisco said.

Hayden officials closed several streets on Thursday as well, with Third, Fourth and Poplar streets all seeing significant flooding. The water submerged roads, flooded garages and made its way into some people’s homes.

At the Hayden Police Station, volunteers showed up to fill hundreds of sandbags that could be used to protect people’s homes. Longtime Hayden resident Kevin Kleckler said his house is up on a hill, away from the floodwaters, but he felt it was his duty to help his neighbors in need.

“This is the most snow I’ve ever seen in Hayden,” Kleckler said. “When you have that much snow and it warms up to 70 degrees or whatever it was, it’s brutal.”

Routt County Commissioner and former Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond said he hadn’t seen flooding like this before either, though it was reminiscent of the spring of 1984 — a year Kleckler recalled as a high water year as well.

Water wraps around a home of Fourth Street in downtown Hayden on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Due to heavy spring runoff, large sections of the town were flooded while the bridge that carries traffic over Dry Creek was closed by the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT also closed a large portion of U.S. Highway 40 between Steamboat Springs and Craig.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Several ranchers also reached out to Redmond with concerns about how the flooding could affect their calving efforts, as the ranchers fear not being able to get to their calves, which in some cases may be just hours old.

“Their fields are flooding, and they don’t have a really good way to get to their cattle,” Redmond said. “It’s hard to move these calves that are newborn, and they’re still at risk of drowning.”

In Steamboat Springs, a mudslide was reported near Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park early Thursday, which is why the highway closure stretched all the way to Steamboat, according to an email update that Routt County Emergency Manager David “Mo” DeMorat sent county commissioners just before noon Thursday.

U.S. 40 was closed to through traffic between Steamboat and Craig until after 1 p.m. Thursday, though the road was largely free of the flooding. Rather, CDOT officials were concerned about a key bridge just west of Hayden, and waited for an engineer to inspect it before reopening the highway. The bridge may eventually close the highway again if floodwaters rise overnight after a day of melting, DeMorat wrote in his update.

Mendisco also asked that residents help clean out storm drains clogged with debris to allow the system to help control the flooding. 

“The fire department and everybody else around here have all the resources to help folks,” Mendisco said. “We’ll make it through this.”

Craig Press Editor Eli Pace contributed to this report.

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