Debris flow threatens Glenwood homes
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Tucker and Felony didn’t seem too worried over all the commotion.
Neither did Ryan Davis, who lives at Skunk Hollow on Midland Avenue.
As Tucker, an energetic yellow Lab, and Felony, a plump collie mix, roughhoused, Davis and Lora Lipscomb waited patiently to see if mud and debris would break loose.
“You never know,” Davis said as he waited. “It’s better to be safe.”
Davis’ home and a home belonging to Jeff Fegan and his family were evacuated for precautionary measures.
Mud, rocks and debris flow were reported at 6:45 p.m. in a gulch just south of the Red Mountain housing development. Glenwood Springs Police quickly closed Midland from 13th Street to the 1500 block of Midland.
Police Chief Terry Wilson, who arrived on the scene in street clothes, decided to close Midland Avenue overnight as a precautionary measure.
“We’ll close it for the night and until we can get someone up there to look at [the debris flow],” he said.
By 7:50, muddy water began gurgling down into the bar ditch along Midland Avenue.
Craig and Jackie Skramstad joined a group of neighbors as they watched the mud flow from a cul-de-sac on Riverview Avenue near 13th Street.
“I heard this rolling, crashing thunder, and I told my wife that it sounded like a rockslide,” Craig said about the first flow.
As the onlookers along the cul-de-sac watched, another mass of mud, water and debris broke loose amidst gasps and shouts.
When Jess Smith, who lives on Riverview Avenue, first heard the crashing he bolted into action. “My wife was on the phone on the back deck when she heard it. It was very loud.”
Smith then ran down and alerted the Fegan family.
“I told them there was a mudslide coming down and they better get out,” he said. “The other house was empty.”
Fegan evacuated with his wife and three children, ages 7, 9, 11.
“They said it was just an advisory, but we decided to leave,” he said.
Wilson said the last big mudslide he remembers in that area of Midland was in 1984 ” his first year on the force. After seeing how the flow was reacting he surmised it was the same type of situation as it was then.
“All the mud and debris builds up and little dams form from all the deadfall, so it builds up all these little pockets until it breaks loose,” he explained.
Warm temperatures and heavy snowmelt probably contributed to the flow, he said.
Shortly after the call came in, a city of Glenwood on-call maintenance employee was dispatched to the scene with a front-end loader just in case the debris flow covered Midland.
Davis and Lipscomb arrived at the house a little after 7 and moved some of their vehicles and rounded up the dogs.
As darkness arrived, they were still waiting near their driveway to see if they were going to stay or not.
But plans for a relaxing Sunday evening had already been washed away.
They had planned to have a barbecue.
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