Eagle County urges residents to be ready for spring run-off flooding

By Real Vail
May 14, 2011
Organizations throughout Eagle County have worked together to update the countywide flood preparedness plan, which is available for viewing here. All community members are encouraged to review the plan.

Snow Water Equivalent levels, a measure of water content in the existing snowpack, are above average at all local monitoring sites. However, the largest contributing factor to a large scale run-off flood event is snowmelt rate. Spring run-off typically peaks between mid-May and mid-June. The Eagle County Office of Emergency Management is participating in weekly conference calls with the National Weather Service and Colorado Basin River Forecast Center to help forecast river levels and flooding potential.

Sand and bags will be available to residents at multiple distribution points in the Eagle River and Roaring Fork valleys, as listed in the flood plan. Contractors are asked to make their own arrangements for sandbags for commercial construction projects. Private property owners are encouraged to place sandbags at known problem areas if it is safe to do so, and to remove the sandbags once flood season ends. Citizens who observe large amounts of debris in the creeks near bridges or significant running water in unusual places should call 911.

Public Works entities throughout the county have begun monitoring water levels. Eagle County's Road and Bridge crews routinely check culverts to ensure adequate water flows and bridge abutments for scouring or material being washed away from behind. Streams are also watched closely for downed trees, beaver dams or any other obstruction that could alter flows. Once river levels begin to rise, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office will conduct nightly checks of flood-prone areas in Red Cliff, Minturn and Gypsum, as well as at the Dowd Junction and Wolcott railroad bridges and on the Frying Pan River above Basalt.

Residents are reminded of the importance of being prepared for any emergency by assembling a kit containing a three-day food and water supply, as well as medications, toiletries, pet supplies, flashlight, radio and extra batteries. Visit www.ready.gov for more recommendations on personal emergency preparedness. To receive free localized emergency alerts on flooding and other hazards via email and/or text message, subscribe to the countywide emergency alert system at www.ecalert.org.

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