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Boxes of sand helped save homes during flood in Larimer County

The Office of Emergency Management said very few homeowners have opted into this program. They expect interest to go up after Friday's flood.

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — One home was destroyed and six were damaged in a flood in Larimer County on Friday. The flood washed away many roads and bridges, and killed a woman and a girl.

Flooding is common after major wildfires, and that's why counties prepare for events like this. In Larimer County, mitigation efforts have been put into place to reduce the damage from flash floods after the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire.

"We knew we were going to have flooding after this fire no matter what we do," said Lori Hodges, director of the Office of Emergency Management in Larimer County. "Even if we were able to do it all in the first year, there’s still going to be flooding that occurs."

She said the mitigation effort that really helped during the flood on Friday was boxes of sand. 

"It can protect the home by bypassing where the home is," she said.

According to Hodges, some of the flood barrier bags were installed a few months ago in The Retreat neighborhood in the Glen Haven area as part of the emergency watershed protection program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service -- a federal program that allows Larimer County to work on private lands. 

"Homeowners told our damage assessment team that without those bags they know they would have lost their homes," Hodges said.

Hodges said The Retreat neighborhood has seen flooding multiple times since the Cameron Peak Fire. 

"Last year they were hit very hard as well," she said. "There were a few homes that did get damaged last year from the flooding, so I am very grateful those flood barrier bags were in."

RELATED: Residents start clean-up after flash flooding over Cameron Peak burn scar

Hodges said very few people have opted into the program. She said 90% of homeowners the county has contacted have declined to put the flood barrier bags on their property.

"A lot of times it is because of the aesthetic reasons," she said.

Larimer County is trying to protect homes from the ground and the air. Aerial mulching is an effort to prevent erosion, and protect the quality of the water. 

"It takes some time. The mulch has to get on the ground and you have to have some time to have the growth happen," Hodges said. "What you really need most is time – time for the ground to regenerate and recover from that fire."

RELATED: Flash flood in Cameron Peak burn scar area kills 2

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