County Corner

By Roger Baker

The pictures of the flood damage sustained by our neighboring counties have been sobering; we were very lucky in Gilpin County generally during the recent rains.

That being said, this has been a real disaster for those individuals who have been affected, so we continue to work with state and federal officials to secure access to sources of financial assistance.

County staff, Commissioners and local emergency services providers met with a joint federal/state Individual Assessment Team on September 26, and then Tuesday there was a meeting to assess public damages with those same folks, along with representatives of the cities and Timberline fire district.

The irony is that, for the County at least, most of the public impact (and expenditure of tax dollars) was due less to the heavy rains themselves, and more to disaster response in our neighboring counties.

Our biggest early expense, for example, was for the Sheriff’s Office assisting Boulder County in maintaining roadblocks during the first few days of the storm; but since that work was performed in a declared disaster area, we can probably get those funds reimbursed.

The most visible damage to public infrastructure, though, was the ongoing Gap Road repair, and that was caused less by the rains themselves than by the tripling of traffic (much of it from heavy trucks) that we experienced due to the Highway 72 closure in Jefferson County.

But finding the damages to individual properties was trickier; because there wasn’t major flooding along any individual waterway, it wasn’t as though the Individual Assessment Team could just drive along the highway and see the sort of devastation experienced in Lyons or Jamestown.

First, the damages affected all areas of the County, but intermittently. With the high water table, we’ve been hearing of flooded basements from areas as diverse as Ronnie Road and Rudi Lane in Wondervu, on Karlann Drive and Highway 119 in mid-County, and in a number of places in Dory Lakes.

There were washed-out driveways and flooded ponds along Highway 72, right on the Boulder County line, and rock walls fallen in Central City and Black Hawk.

Probably the hardest-hit area was along South Beaver Creek Road, which is where we sent out our only pre-evacuation notice, when we were worried about Wheeler Pond.

So for everyone who suffered ANY sort of damage that can be attributed to the storm, we are offering two suggestions. First, if you are doing repair work yourself, or hiring a contractor to do it, DOCUMENT everything: take pictures, keep receipts, and watch out for scammers (who are out there, sadly).

Then, so that we can make sure we’re aware of any problems, call our dispatch headquarters at 303-582-5500, so we can get your contact information and a description of the damage sustained.

Remember, too, that we continue to offer free water testing kits through our Public Health office at 303-582-5803. Though the cloudy water that folks experienced certainly seemed like the sort of thing we encounter every spring (and seems to be clearing up already), the fact that some folks have standing water over their leach fields gives us concern that some wells might have been contaminated.

Generally speaking, we’ve been very pleased by the responsiveness of the state and federal agencies we’ve work with; their folks really do seem eager to help.

Still, this is the government, and the restrictions and procedures sometimes seem silly: right now, the most annoying is that the RTD buses which are running through Gilpin County to provide service between Nederland and Boulder won’t actually stop in the County. We’ll keep working on that.

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