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Volunteers Continue To Clean Up In Manitou Springs

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A volunteer in Manitou Springs (credit: CBS)

A volunteer in Manitou Springs (credit: CBS)

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – There was a huge volunteer effort in Manitou Springs as residents spent another day cleaning up after severe flooding and mudslides.

Businesses in the main tourist area are trying to get back to normal after Friday night’s destruction. One man was killed. His body was found in a pile of debris off Highway 24.

The El Paso County sheriff said there are no active searches for missing people but one woman remains unaccounted for. Her name hasn’t been released.

The flooding destroyed six homes and dozens of cars. There is still no word on how long it will take to recover from the damage.

The flooding was the result of runoff from the Waldo Canyon burn area. Last summer the massive wildfire burned more than 18,000 acres and more than 300 homes. Friday’s flooding came after only a little more than an inch of rain.

There is now a big push to keep the flooding and mudslides from happening again. The soil in the burn area doesn’t absorb water well.

“I’ve lived in this area here since 1978,” resident Jim Heintz said.

Dealing with floods is the story of Heintz’s life.

“If you see a storm cloud coming you head up the pass and you head home because you don’t want to be caught on the road,” Heintz said.

The U.S. Forest Service is now building basins to slow the flood waters down.

“Rather than have it shoot through like a shotgun, we’ve spread out the water which helps diminish the impact of the floods,” Dana Butler with the U.S. Forest Service said.

Crews put up what they call trap bags, which are heavy-duty sandbags. They are also building a sediment detention basins to catch debris. There are also logs buried every 20 feet to help hold the soil in place when the water comes rushing down.

“When the water fills up it spills out,” Butler said.

The Forest Service just received $10 million in federal funds for more projects, but El Paso County Commissioner Sally Clark says getting that money is a slow process.

“If you think about it, it’s much less expensive to put the fences at the top of the cliff and the ambulance at the bottom, and that’s what we’re trying to do here, is to go upstream from all of this, these areas that are impacted, and put in the dollars needed,” Clark said.

Meanwhile trap bags surround Heintz’s neighborhood as he braces himself for the next flooding.

“(There’s) not enough money to mitigate all of it, but you’ve just got to live through it,” he said.

Crews have built 11 basins just in one canyon. Clark said so far they’ve gotten $30 million for mitigation projects that includes federal funds and funds from other partnerships like the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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