Routt County braces for more flooding in coming weeks |

Routt County braces for more flooding in coming weeks

Officials stress residents sign up for Routt County Alerts, which can notify them of flooding impacts and inform first responders of specific needs

Water from spring runoff flows downhill, across from KOA Holiday in Steamboat Springs, late Thursday evening, April, 13, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Flooding wasn’t as significant in Hayden on Friday, April 14, as it was the day before, but the town and officials across Routt County are gearing up for more melting.

Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco said residents are still dealing with flooding and are working to shore up parts of Dry Creek where water is still overflowing its banks. The town is also working to secure pumps for people who need them but may not be able to afford them.

The town has put an emergency disaster declaration in place, which enables Hayden to work with Routt County and the state to secure additional resources. 

As colder weather slows the melting process that swelled Hayden’s main waterway on Thursday, April 13, officials are looking ahead to prepare for more runoff from a strong snowpack in the coming weeks.

Routt County officials have activated the county’s Emergency Operations Center and have held meetings each of the last two mornings with public works personnel, first responders and Moffat County officials.

“There’re doing a lot of monitoring, watching different culverts, bridges, stuff like that, pulling debris out as they need to,” said Alyssa Ingles, Routt County’s emergency management specialist. “It’s important to note that our EOC isn’t just focused on Hayden. Obviously, those are the immediate effects right now, but we’re also thinking about Steamboat and Oak Creek.”

The snowmelt has slowed, but Ingles said the emergency team is expecting more high flows in Hayden next week. In Steamboat Springs, officials are expecting impacts to increase in a week and a half to two weeks, though Butcherknife Creek may swell earlier.

Ingles said that if the Yampa River causes major flooding, that would likely be three weeks out.

A sump pump sits in the back up of a pickup truck parked in front of a home on Fourth Street on Friday, April 13, 2023. The residents have been dealing with flood conditions since early Thursday morning, April 13.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

If residents see waterways swelling rapidly, they should call 911. Still, first responders are trying to limit calls from the public, as they are dealing with typical emergency calls as well.

If someone is looking to report nonemergent flooding, residents should call their local governments during regular business hours or the Routt County nonemergency line after hours at 970-879-1110.

Ingles stressed that people across the county should also sign up for Routt County Alerts, which not only can notify them of flooding but helps first responders learn about specific needs residents may have.

Get the top stories in your inbox every morning. Sign up here:

A focus for emergency personnel has been people with access or functional needs, those who may be on oxygen, and the elderly. Officials have discussed how they would evacuate the Haven in Hayden if needed, though flooding has not forced taking those steps at the senior living community at this point.

When signing up for Routt County Alerts, there is a way to indicate any specific needs or limitations a resident has, which allows first responders to react accordingly.

Butcherknife Creek in Steamboat Springs is still within it’s banks on Friday, April 14, 2023.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“That’s really important,” Ingles said. “We know, OK, these people are in this area that we’re trying to evacuate (and) they may need some additional help from us.”

There are no evacuation orders in place in Routt County.

Ingles said they have an animal-sheltering plan as well, so residents shouldn’t feel pressured to stay in their homes because they are worried about their pets. That shelter would be in a different location as emergency shelters like what has been set up at the Hayden Center, but pets should not prevent someone from leaving their home in an emergency flooding situation.

“If it does come down to it, we have a plan in place,” Ingles said.

Alex Guerra and Tom Bradbury help fill sandbags on the corner of Fourth Street and Washington Avenue in Hayden on Friday, April 14, 2023.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

In Hayden, the police department has sand and bags for residents who need them.

In Steamboat, Streets Superintendent David Van Winkle said there are three stations set up and more on the way.

Stations are at Stehley Park, the corner of Short and James streets and the corner of Crawford Avenue and Pahwintah Street. The stations consist of a 55-gallon drum with sandbags and a pile of sand. The drum has a phone number on it for residents to call to get the combination to unlock the drum and instructions from streets staff.

Butcherknife Creek in Steamboat is another focus point, as it is typically one of the first to swell each year, but so far it has not breached its banks.

“We’re monitoring all creeks, bridges and stuff daily,” Van Winkle said. “(Butcherknife) seems to be within its banks still. We got very close yesterday.

A sandbag station awaits at Stehley Park near Butcherknife Creek in Steamboat Springs on Friday, April 14, 2023.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.