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Pueblo West families suffering after massive flood damage

Neighbors are banding together as many of them try and clean out what is left of their flooded basements
Posted at 7:06 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 10:47:47-04

PUEBLO — Greg and Mirjam York have lived in their home in Pueblo West for 18 years, but what used to be their basement is now pile of debris and mud.

“Disbelief, just I can’t believe this is happening. All of our baby pictures of our kids were down there,” said Greg, who came home on Saturday evening to find their basement submerged in 8 feet of water.

"It's miserable, and trying to scoop out all of the stuff and hoping that you'll find something that's salvageable.. That's a memento? All the furniture is all lost," said Mirjam, as she and her husband lay remains of items from their basement out on the front line to dry.

According to News 5's lead forecaster Mike Daniels, Pueblo West received 5.5 inches of rain on the evening that the York's basement was destroyed. He says that amount of rain is "about two months worth of rain in two hours.”

"The thunderstorms were almost stationary. Basically, those monsoon thunderstorms just parked right over Pueblo West and dumped a torrential amounts of rain in a short period of time," said Daniels, which explains why Mirjam says her mother's house just several miles North of theirs was hardly hit.

“It’s easy to, ya know, kind of not realize that one part just had a severe storm and it feels like the Metro District didn’t really bother to come out and assess that fact after it happened," she said.

However, the Metro District explained that staffing shortages made it virtually impossible for rescuers to have responded to every area experiencing flooding on Saturday evening.

“What we’re dealing with is essentially thirteen staff if we’re fully staffed who have to care for the 400 miles of roads, and right now we’re at about nine,” said Christian Heyn, the Public Works Director for Pueblo West.

Many homeowners in need have posted in community Facebook pages, asking for guidance when it comes to handling insurance. Many people in Pueblo West, including the York's, do not have flood insurance.

"We don’t even know if we’re authorized to get flood insurance," said Greg, who has been reaching out to state and local representatives, as well as and FEMA asking for emergency financial aid.

"It's not just us, there's a majority of the people that live in this little basin that we live in were all affected," he said.

One neighbor who lives a few miles down the road from the York's says her basement flooded so badly that she called 911, and the city provided them with a notice, stating it was unsafe for she and her family to continue living there for the time being. No alternative arrangements were made for the family. They are now staying with a relative until they are able to return home.

Many neighbors are communicating about how to move forward with receiving financial aid for the area.
Notice from the City of Pueblo asking on Pueblo West family to evacuate their home due to the safety hazard that their flooded basement has presented.

In the meantime, the family's home remains looking like the images below. The mother of the household says she is "overwhelmed" as she also tries to prepare for her "two young children" to return to school.

The basement of another home in Pueblo West after the flash flooding.
Water in the basement got so high that it almost reached the first floor, which is when one woman says she called 911.

As more and more housing developments pop up all across Pueblo West, Heyn believes some of the increase in problems could be a result of new houses being built on land that was never previously used for residential areas.