Floods, sinkholes force evacuations in Colorado
Monday, June 2, 2003
VAIL, Colo. -- More than 400 residents were ordered to evacuate Sunday as heavy spring runoff and rain increased fears of mudslides and sent a creek over its banks. High water also created a large sinkhole that forced the closure of the major east-west highway across Colorado.
Crews tried to divert water down other creeks while Vail police went door-to-door ordering residents to leave their homes, city spokeswoman Jamie Wilson said.
"It's too dangerous to let anybody in there," she said.
No injuries were reported, and Eagle County sheriff's deputies did not know how many homes had been flooded, spokeswoman Kim Andree said. In the far northern part of the state, a kayaker died Saturday in a swollen river in Larimer County.
A 25-mile stretch of Interstate 70 was closed in both directions in the Vail area, sending drivers on a 54-mile detour across two mountain passes. The road was expected to remain closed for several days.
Summer vacation traffic has already begun on the highway, which is busier now than during the ski season.
"We have engineers here and there really is not much that they can do right now," Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacy Stegman said. "The priority now is to minimize the damage."
Gore Creek already was swollen with melting snowpack when a rainstorm sent the water over its banks. More than 700 reverse 911 calls were also made to homes along the creek, asking residents to head for higher ground.
Stegman said the sinkhole opened up after sediment and water caused a culvert to fail.