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Homeowners Along Rivers Get Early Jump On Flood Preps

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Homeowners fill sandbags in Laporte (credit: CBS)

Homeowners fill sandbags in Laporte (credit: CBS)

LAPORTE, Colo. (CBS4) – Rivers are on the rise across Colorado as temperatures soar.

A flood advisory is in effect in Grand and Routt counties. One man near Parshall has already put sandbags up to protect his ranch from the Colorado River. In Steamboat Springs, the Yampa River has spilled out of its banks and flooded a hotel parking lot. The Elk River northwest of Steamboat is also flooding some ranchland.

Homeowners are working now to prevent problems later along the Poudre and Big Thompson rivers. CBS4 found some homeowners in Laporte who want to be ready, even though they don’t know how high the water will actually rise.

Joni Suther and her neighbors were filling sandbags and building water walls around their homes in Laporte.

“We’re just doing the best we can, going as high as we think is realistic,” Suther said.

The snowpack is more than three times the average in the South Platte River Basin, which the Poudre River in part of.

“We know if it’s really nice and clear and no clouds up there, then we know we have full sun on the snowpack,” Laporte resident Gloria Williams said.

“These snowpacks are off the chart. My gut tells me that we’re going into somewhat uncharted waters; that we’re just going to have to play it by ear,” said Erik Nilsson, Larimer County Emergency Manager.

Nilsson says he’ll have people monitoring the rivers.

“This isn’t a flash flood. To a great extent we’ll see this coming. We’ll see the river rising slowly. We’ll be able to start mapping out problem areas as they come,” Nilsson said.

Residents have already moved some belongings out of their basements and first floors.

“My pictures are already down in Loveland at my mother’s house,” Suther said.

But they haven’t given up hope of stopping the water. There are still bags to fill and the Poudre River is still in its banks.

Wednesday evening there is a meeting planned in Laporte for residents to get more information about what they might expect from the river and how to protect their property. That meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Cache la Poudre Elementary School, named after the river that’s on the rise.

There is a lot of snow still to come down. The South Platte River Basin is now at 323 percent of average. That’s because the snowmelt is running about a month later than usual.

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