Fourmile Canyon Fire burn areas prepare for floods

10:43 PM, Mar 8, 2011   |    comments
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People in the Fourmile and Sunshine Canyon areas were warned at a meeting on Tuesday night that the charred land has the potential for severe flooding this spring.

"So often the sun comes out and the snow drops right off," David Gatten, who lives in there area, said.

Boulder County officials worry that when spring arrives, a rapid thaw could mean disaster.

Long before Tuesday night's warning, people like Gatten were preparing.

"We've made it through the fire, but now the floods and the mudslides are the thing to worry about," Gatten said.

Gatten and his wife have stockpiled the hill that hugs their backyard with all the tools they will need to battle flooding.

"We built 11 dams. We took down some of the burned trees and built the dams with the straw that we stalked in," Gatten said.

They used more than 100 bails of straw and even mulched and seeded around them.

"It's not going to stop the water, but hopefully it will slow things down," Gatten said.

Their hope is to reroute any problems.

"Get [it] down into the road instead of the cabin," Gatten said.

If it does happen, Gatten says the flooding would eventually end up in a larger area.

"I think there's an acknowledgement and understanding that if this canyon floods, what's down the stream? Boulder. And then Boulder would flood," he said.

That concern, and many others, were brought up at Tuesday night's meeting. County officials pointed out where the trouble spots would likely develop.

"All the steep slopes, where the top soil has been burned and the earth has scorched," Garry Sanfacon, a Fourmile Canyon Fire recovery manager, said.

It is a matter of preparing and having an evacuation plan just in case.

The local fire departments will also train this weekend to be ready for any flooding.

Until the warm weather arrives, Gatten is enjoying the sights around his home. He knows the threat is still frozen for now.

"It will drop off eventually, but were certainly enjoying it today," he said.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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