Hayden’s flooding far from over; officials look to the community for damage assessment | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden’s flooding far from over; officials look to the community for damage assessment

Residents fill sandbags in an effort to help their neighbors reinforce barriers and mitigate flooding after Dry Creek overflowed its banks Tuesday night, April 18, 2023, in Hayden.
Eli Pace/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Hayden is entering its second week of a declared state of emergency and officials say the flooding is far from over as they continue around-the-clock flood mitigation efforts.

Town Manager Mathew Mendisco indicated public works and emergency management have been able to stay ahead of the curve with mitigation efforts, lessening the damage overall.

To gauge what immediate needs in the community are and begin forming a damage assessment, community and state partners will hold a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the Town Hall for flood impacted community members.

“Last night flood waters did come up, quicker than they had the previous night, but the flood mitigation measures that have been put in place in our key low spots in the areas of town most affected have held,” Mendisco said. 

Mendisco said public works employees have stayed past midnight many nights this past week identifying potential problem areas and sandbagging. He noted their efforts in addition to the efforts of volunteer community members filling sandbags have minimized flood damage across Hayden. 

Both Mendisco and Routt County Emergency Operations Director Mo DeMorat said these efforts will have to continue as more flooding is anticipated in the upcoming weeks, especially as another area of town will be at risk as snow melt makes its way into the Yampa River.

Mendisco said flooding is very localized and can mostly be attributed to the breaching of the banks in Dry Creek. He explained the intent with the mitigation is to keep the water in Dry Creek in its channel. He noted once low spots and problem areas were identified in Dry Creek, the town immediately moved on taking mitigation measures Friday, April 14.

“We certainly would have had worsened flooding Monday night and Tuesday night if we had not put those mitigation measures in place,” Mendisco said.

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DeMorat said the biggest area of concern remains along the Dry Creek drainage between Third Street and Sixth Street. As of yesterday, the area and ditch around Hayden Cemetery had been deemed another problem area. 

“Hayden’s Director of Public Works Bryan Richards and his team have been phenomenal in staying on top of this and have moved very quickly identifying potential problem areas,” DeMorat said.

In addition to county, town and state officials, the American Red Cross, Department of Local Affairs and United Way are just a few of the partners that were invited to the Thursday meeting.

“This meeting is to get an understanding of who took on water in the main level of their homes to not only assess damages, but address immediate needs from a health and safety standpoint,” Mendisco said.

He mentioned that flooding could impact the electric outlets in homes and has the potential to impact gas tanks as well. Large amounts of water accumulating inside homes increase the likelihood of harmful mold forming. 

Mendisco said this is something community members need to be wary of as sickness caused by mold is not always evident immediately, but is something that worsens over time.

He indicated there will be resources available through the community and its partners to help people evaluate damage. Although Mendisco said many people do not have flood insurance in the town, the town will still work to aid those affected. 

Mendisco said that once the town has a more concrete idea of what damages can entail, it can start moving forward in collaboration with partners building a flood recovery center. 

DeMorat noted that the hope is the agencies partnering with the town will help identify the criteria for homes eligible for any kind of support. He noted, as of now, the county cannot put any monetary value to what the damage assessment will be.

 “The intent is to get a better idea of what level of damage has occurred, we have seen it on the outside, we haven’t gone inside to look at damage to building and residences,” DeMorat said.

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