Hayden begins to take stock of flood damage as town starts ‘long process’ of recovery | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden begins to take stock of flood damage as town starts ‘long process’ of recovery

Town Council ratified disaster declaration Thursday following a packed meeting

Floodwater surrounds a home at the corner of Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Hayden on Thursday, April 13, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

More Hayden residents may be displaced from their homes because of flooding than originally thought, and more high water is expected to impact the town in the coming weeks — both from Dry Creek and eventually the Yampa River.

Residents impacted by flooding gathered at Hayden Town Hall on Thursday, April 20, to start documenting the damage and learn about the resources are available to them and what may become available down the line.

While some assistance from the American Red Cross is available now depending on individual circumstances, Town Manager Mathew Mendisco emphasized that based on his experience with flood recovery on the Front Range and in his hometown, the process isn’t going to be quick.

“This is a long process,” Mendisco said, adding extra emphasis to the “o” in long.

Colder weather has brought a reprieve from flooding for now, but the town is getting ready for more next week. Residents pointed out parts of Dry Creek that may need more bank mitigations to protect other houses and suggested that snow piles in some parts of town be moved before more melting occurs.

Others asked if the town could secure dehumidifiers or industrial fans to help dry out their homes in addition to the sump pumps that are available. Mendisco said the town would pursue that. While some residents had flooding limited to crawl spaces, others had several feet of water on their main level.

Hayden Town Council ratified a disaster declaration that Mendisco put in place the week before on Thursday, which should allow more county and state dollars to assist with flood recovery. So far, Mendisco said, much of the work has been done with town resources, though Routt County Emergency Management and the Colorado Department of Transportation helped as well.

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With the declaration ratified, Mendisco said the town would work with the state to set up a flood recovery center at the Hayden Center as soon as possible. He also asked that residents with damage notify the town so they can work with the Routt County Building Department to start inspecting the damage sometime next week.

“What we’re trying to do today is get a fair assessment of our community because next week we’re going to be coming through and visiting homes to do a true damage assessment,” Mendisco told the packed room. “That’s not going to give a monetary value to your home, but it’s going to give us some perspective on the next steps that we need to take.”

Many of the affected residents do not have flood insurance, but Mendisco said they are working to set up a fund to utilize state dollars and donations to potentially help pay for recovery for those who are not covered.

“The idea right now is that the town can take in those funds, hold them in a pot and we can treat you like you had flood insurance,” Mendisco said.

A representative from the American Red Cross was also at the meeting to sign people up to have an official case with the agency. By singing up with the Red Cross, people who have been displaced from their homes can get immediate funding to help pay for a place to stay.

Mendisco stressed that mold can start growing within 48 hours, so if residents have significant water in their home, they should consider finding another place to stay for now. If they could, they should try to have their home inspected now, rather than waiting until next week.

“Mold is 48 hours, so that’s why I’m urging people not to wait for us,” Mendisco said.

While recovery efforts are brewing, more flooding is likely on the way.

The Yampa River near Hayden was seeing flows of about 2,500 cubic feet per second on Thursday, but Mendisco said predictions of what it could get to in the coming weeks are between 10,000 and 13,000 cfs.

This has the town focused on trying to get ahead of potential flooding in parts of Hayden that have not been impacted so far.

Routt County Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat urged people to sign up for Routt County Alerts, which can serve several benefits for emergency responders and residents.

The alerts allow residents to put in any physical limitations they have, so if an area needs to be evacuated, first responders know certain residents may need additional help. The alerts also can be localized, so that if residents along particular streets need to be aware of flooding, emergency personnel can target those addresses.

Still, some residents said they had not received an alert when they believed they should have and suggested the town utilize police or fire sirens to alert residents to flooding if needed. One resident said it would be important for everyone to notify their neighbors when they get an alert as well.

“One of the things in town was everybody being proactive, making sure their neighbors knew,” the resident said. “I think we still need to do that.”

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