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Dropping water levels in Loveland bring new hazards

4:01 PM, Sep 14, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - City of Loveland officials say dropping levels of the Big Thompson River in Loveland still leave vast portions of the city flooded and present new hazards as crews work to assess damage, reopen closed roadways, keep utility services intact and assist residents affected by the flooding.

Reopening Loveland streets, clearing away mountains of debris, inspecting flooded property and meeting with owners of flooded homes and businesses make up the focus of City activity Saturday with the Big Thompson River still above flood stage.

Taft Avenue, a major north-south arterial in the city, opened at First Street midafternoon Saturday, easing mobility between the two halves of the City that on Thursday had been split in two by the flooded Big Thompson.

First steps toward establishing a centralized assistance center for residents and business owners affected by the flood were also under way. The center, in a location yet to be determined, will open early Monday morning.

Public Works crews, City Building inspectors and Loveland Fire Rescue Authority workers spent Saturday afternoon sweeping the flood zone that stretches from the western to eastern city limits, determining the safety of affected structures.

Meetings for property owners and residents are scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bill Reed Middle School Auditorium, 370 W. Fourth St., and at 8 p.m. at the Winona Elementary School cafeteria, 201 S. Boise Avenue.

The meetings will be open only to residents who received evacuation notices earlier in the week, and proof of residence will be required. 

Owners of property that has been deemed safe to inspect will be given credentials to enter the flood zone to do so, but permanent re-entry to the flood zone will have to await safe water levels.

A regional flood incident management structure was established Saturday, with a headquarters at the Poudre Fire Authority training center in Fort Collins. 

Because of the number of property owners stranded in Big Thompson Canyon and in other remote areas west of Loveland and Fort Collins, air rescue operations are also under way, from a base at Christman Field in west Fort Collins.

Earlier on Saturday, private helicopters from a base at Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport in Loveland evacuated canyon residents and travelers who had been stranded between the many breaches of U.S. Highway 34 in Big Thompson Canyon.

Public Works crews could open the intersection of Taft Avenue and First Street only after clearing layers of silt and mounds of debris from the roadway and surrounding structures.

Debris clearing will consume weeks or months as the clean-up of the vast flood zone progresses. Because of contamination, the debris will be hauled to the Larimer County Landfill for disposal.

The Loveland Recycling Center on Wilson Avenue is closed because of saturated soil in the facilities yards, and the likelihood that vehicles would become mired in mud. The center will reopen on Tuesday.

Loveland Water and Power continues to receive calls from residents and businesses concerned about water quality and water outages. Concerned residents can call 970-962-3000 for more information.

Water quality specialists continue to monitor and sample water throughout our system.  The results are good and well within State and Federal water quality standards.

Water conservation measures have prevented flushing the City's system for the past two years, resulting in more sediment, discoloration and cloudiness.

Water customers on U.S. Highway 34 from Westridge Drive to County Road 27 and south of First Street between Taft Avenue and U.S. Highway 287 have been affected by water outages and low pressure.

Utility crews continue to try to find the source of the problem and take steps to reroute water to increase flows and restore service.  Residents who see bubbling water in the street or on the ground should call 970-962-3000 to report it.

An evening forecast of scattered showers that could drop 1 to 3 inches of rain in Loveland and points west could prolong the flood conditions. 

Releases from the Olympus Dam at Estes Park dropped to about 1,400 cubic feet per second on Saturday, a third of the high flow from the dam early Friday. 

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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