Damp Westside holds its breath as worst of flooding stays in Manitou Springs... for now

       While Manitou Springs has absorbed the brunt of burn-scar flooding in recent weeks, the Westside has gotten some high water but reported no serious injuries or damage.

Near the end of a rainstorm with minor flooding Aug. 12, police officers confer on 26th Street by the bridge over Fountain Creek. They had been directed to keep vehicles off the bridge for stability reasons.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “This was minor compared to the 1999 flood,” commented John Hooton, co-owner of the Timber Lodge, 3627 W. Colorado Ave, after the storm Aug. 9. “That one was two feet over our bridge [footbridge over Fountain Creek]. This one was only two inches.”
       Still, the overflow left behind “debris and lots of mud,” he said, “and it took some gravel off the property.”
       Neighboring Amanda's Fonda, 3625 W. Colorado Ave., twice has had to evacuate its customers because of creek water nearly overlapping into the parking lot. But the restaurant itself has stayed dry. “We've been really, really lucky so far,” said Brian McCarthy, director of operations for the Amanda's chain. But he has a sense of inevitability about the situation. “If an inch and a half of rain can create that much water, what can two and a half do?”
       He added that the restaurant management stays as prepared as possible. “We've had sandbags in place for five weeks, we've got flood alerts on our smartphones, and we do whatever the police and fire people tell us to do.”
       Camp Creek, also considered at risk from the burn scar caused by the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, has yet to jump its banks, according to reports.
       Westside motorists have experienced traffic delays and detours. Highway 24 has been blocked at 31st Street at least twice, and in the afternoon storm Aug. 12 police kept cars and pedestrians off bridges over Fountain Creek.
       Asked why the creek-related flooding has been so much worse in Manitou Springs, City Stormwater Engineering Manager Tim Mitros said Manitou is in a narrower area, which concentrates the water in a smaller space, while the Westside is a “big drainage basin” which is more likely to disperse the water.

Fountain Creek's water levels subside Aug. 12 after a brief, hard rainfall caused the creek to overflow its banks at the sign-identified low-water crossing (lower left where the woman is standing) on the Midland Trail that goes under the 26th Street bridge. The creek also has risen above its banks slightly in other Westside locations at times this summer, but (as of press deadline) not enough to result in injury or major property damage.
Westside Pioneer photo

       In any case, with the burn scar upstream expected to take years to regrow the vegetation that once slowed rainfall drainage, area weather forecasters are predicting similar flooding susceptibility along Fountain and Camp creeks for several years to come.

Westside Pioneer article