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From fire to flood: Manitou Springs businesses remember the impact of Waldo Canyon Fire

The burn scar lead to flash flooding in Manitou Springs after the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 17:56:37-04

MANITOU SPRINGS — It was ten years ago when Adam's Mountain Cafe, a staple small business in Manitou Springs, filled with water as flash flooding plagued the downtown.

"I was looking at this damage and just assuming that there was no way that we could recover from this. I mean, I had just never seen anything like it," says Farley McDonough, Owner of Adam's Mountain Cafe.

The Waldo Canyon Fire not only forced the entire town of Manitou Springs to evacuate, but the burn scar it left led to major damage when it rained.

"The water totally came into the restaurant, it was up to the bottom of our tables, the whole dining room, all of our equipment in the kitchen," said McDonough.

With the impending danger of fire and flooding, Manitou Springs became much quieter than usual in the years following the Waldo Canyon Fire.

"Manitou was open for business and the town, in a weird way, looked beautiful," said McDonough. "The problem is that if you’re a visitor coming to this area, you’re just hearing that there’s flooding and that it could happen any minute, and you’re seeing all of the signage saying 'Run to high ground' and it’s really intimidating and scary."

Marc Snyder, the former Mayor of Manitou Springs, remembers applying for numerous grants after businesses, like Adam's Mountain Cafe, flooded in an effort to keep the town's economy afloat.

"We were facing an existential threat because summer is our bread and butter. We make, you know, 60%... 65% of our revenues in that Memorial Day to Labor Day window," said Snyder.

Flash forward to 2022 and Adam's Mountain Cafe has now been in business for over 30 years. The cafe did eventually move locations out of downtown as a result of the constant flooding.

"Manitou strong. I don’t know what else to say, you know, this is a very resilient community," says McDonough.

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