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Flooding forces family to evacuate west of Steamboat

High waters at Routt County Road 44 and U.S. 40 crept into home

Friends of Andy George load containers into the back of a pickup at the home he rents at Saddle Mountain Ranch west of Steamboat Springs. George, in the blue shirt, and his family woke up to water in their home, called friends and evacuated the residence as quickly as possible. George expects the home to be completely flooded as the waters from the Elk River continue to rise.
John F. Russell

— High water from the Elk River forced a Routt County family to evacuate its home along U.S. Highway 40 on Friday morning.

Andrew George said he woke up at 6 a.m. to his daughter telling him there was water in her room. George rents the house at Saddle Mountain Ranch at Routt County Road 44 and U.S. 40 with his pregnant wife and their three children.

George said the word spread after just one phone call. Soon, 10 trucks and a dozen people showed up to help them evacuate the house eight miles west of Steamboat Springs.

“We moved basically 5,000 square feet of house in four hours,” said George, who owns the Mambo Italiano restaurant in Steamboat Springs. “It was amazing.”

George said he had been watching the river forecast and expected to have to leave the home.

“Last night I came home and said to my wife, ‘We’re going to move tomorrow,’” George said.

A caretaker unit at the property also was flooded.

George said they were able to save their property and are going to stay with friends. He thinks it might be a while before the family can return home because the water level has not peaked.

“This is just the start,” George said.

Flood warning issued for Elk River

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a flood warning for the Elk River at Routt County Road 42 on Friday.

“Significant rises have occurred along the Elk River near Routt County Road 42 as a result of recent warm weather increasing snow melt over the higher mountains,” the warning states. “This river will continue to rise through this weekend and into early next week as warm temperatures continue to melt off the higher snowpack.”

The river peaked early Friday at 7.88 feet at a measuring station near Milner.

The Office of Routt County Emergency Management noted that water was up to some houses at C.R. 44 and U.S. 40. High water also reached homes around C.R. 42.

Agricultural land east of that area looked like a lake Friday morning, Emergency Management Director Bob Struble said. That is not unusual during years of high runoff.

The Elk River is expected to reach 9 feet at the measuring station by Monday morning. Moderate flood stage starts at 8.5 feet, and major flood stage is 9.5 feet.

Struble said high water would not affect Sunday’s Steamboat Marathon course on C.R. 129.

Yampa prediction adjusted downward for early next week

The Yampa River reached nearly 4,000 cubic feet per second Thursday night, and the water level continues to rise.

The river where it crosses under the Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat reached a maximum depth of 6.42 feet Thursday night. Flood stage at that location is 7.5 feet. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction had lowered its forecast for how high the river will rise early next week. Hydrologists now expect the river to rise to crest at 8 feet early Tuesday and begin to recede thereafter.

The Yampa spilled its banks in several Steamboat locations that typically experience flooding in high runoff years. The red barn behind the Brooklyn neighborhood that is visible from U.S. 40 just east of downtown was surrounded by Friday morning. The Yampa also flowed into Little Toots Park at 12th and Yampa streets Thursday night, but the floodwaters had receded Friday morning.

Core Trail closures

The Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department is closing sections of the Yampa River Core Trail and other local trails because of high water. As of Thursday evening, these sections of trail were closed:

■ From Dougherty Road to Weiss Drive

■ Railroad underpass upstream of Fetcher Pond

■ U.S. Highway 40 underpass at Walton Creek

■ 13th Street underpass

■ Trafalgar Drive to Fetcher Pond

■ Chinook Drive to U.S. 40 underpass

The city asks trail users to obey all closures and not try to cross trails with water on them. Contact Craig at 970-879-4300 or crobinson@steamboatsprings.net with questions or concerns.

How to fill and stack sandbags

The Steamboat Today will continue to update the runoff situation across Routt County. If you’re aware of flooding issues anywhere in the county, call us at 970-871-4234 or email share@SteamboatToday.com.


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