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Aug 16, 2013 12:41 AM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Gov. Hickenlooper tours damage in Manitou Springs

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper toured Manitou Springs on Thursday evening, surveying the damage from recent flooding and speaking with residents.

The city saw it's most destructive flash flood from the Waldo Canyon burn scar last Friday when a storm dumped over an inch of rain on the scar in around 15 minutes. Dozens of homes were damaged, numerous cars were swept off of Highway 24 where a Teller County man drowned in a heavy flow of debris and water.

On Thursday Gov. Hickenlooper said the state government was exploring all its options in providing assistance to those affected and doing work to mitigate flooding. However, he said that limited funds would mean dealing with recovery and prevention would require a partnership of local, state and federal governments. Last week Hickenlooper authorized $400,000 in funding to aid in removing debris and on Thursday CDOT announced it had approved $5.5-million to aid in repairing damage from past and future floods.

When it comes to mitigation work to prevent destructive flooding Hickenlooper said engineers were studying ideas and drawing up plans, but there is little that can be done to stand-up against Mother Nature.

"To do all the mitigation that would be required to really have a complete, excellent job is daunting," Hickenlooper explained.

Among the concerns brought up by residents at a community meeting was the effect the flooding and media coverage of the flooding could be having on the economy of Manitou Springs which depends heavily on tourism. Gov. Hickenlooper said the state would consider advertising or other options to get the message out that "Manitou is open for business." Some residents expressed concern that until work to prevent destructive flooding is done it may be dangerous to encourage tourism.

"The idea that we're going to invite a bunch of tourists to our town when there's a very real danger of people dying, that's just a hard line to walk," said John Kostelecky. "I'm not on either side, but I just think that's a really major concern."

Hickenlooper said the state and the City of Manitou Springs are working together to install two new warning sirens to ensure that as many residents as possible can hear the warnings to get to higher ground. Short-term flood mitigation work will also be done in the coming days and weeks.

 

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