LA VETA – A year of emergency flash flood planning got its first test this week in La Veta. The Colorado mountain town is below tens of thousands of mountain land that burned during the Spring Creek Fire last summer.
Threatening rain enacted parts of a multi-layer plan. “We put sirens in town, so we can get instantaneous notifications to all of our citizens,” said La Veta Mayor, Doug Brgoch. Warnings also happen through phones and media.
Warning are a race against the speed of water going downhill. Meteorologists are on alert watching satellites and radar to warn before and during storms with potential for flash floods. A combination of federal, state and local agencies has joined resources to put in remote water sensors. “Put some water gauge warning systems up in the hills. Those are complete and installed now and are transmitting data,” said Brgoch.
Add to the high tech, the original warning system. There are locals recently trained as weather spotters. “We’re not asking anyone to drive up there and take a look, that’s maybe the worst thing they can do, but the weather spotters that have homes and are located up in those hills and high enough up elevations, they don’t have to worry about flooding.” They will confirm what the gauges transmit.
Most essential, is everyone in the area knowing what to do when they hear warnings. “We hope that everybody has it in their mind what to do and how to accomplish that, so there’s not panic.” When the sirens blare, people have 30 minutes to get to designated safe areas on higher ground.