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Businesses Struggle To Reopen In Flood-Ravaged Coal Creek Canyon

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Darrell Smith was closing up at the Kwik Mart where he works in Coal Creek Canyon on the night of Sept. 11 when he heard a noise coming from the corner of the store.

“And here comes this trash can and it’s kind of wobbly, you know, and I thought ‘What’s going on with this? Who snuck in here to mess with me?’ ” he said.

The trash can came floating by as the store was inundated with water. Flash flooding in the canyon forced the business to shut down.

Darrell Smith walks with CBS4's Valerie Castro outside the Kwik Mart where he works. (credit: CBS)

Darrell Smith walks with CBS4′s Valerie Castro outside the Kwik Mart where he works. (credit: CBS)

A major cleanup job is still going on at the business and also at many other homes and businesses in the area, and parts of Coal Creek Canyon Road remain shut down.

“It just looked like the river, like the Coal Creek came up here and just decided to go through the building instead of going where it’s supposed to go,” said Smith.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Smith says the experience was something he’ll never forget.

“It was all coming down that road like a river,” he said. “When they say flash flood, I always say ‘Okay, yeah, you know you have a little water here and there,’ but this got my attention.”

When the creek rose beyond its banks the water also started flowing through the office space that houses the printing presses of the Mountain Messenger newspaper.

Annette Greager

Annette Greager shovels up mud in the Mountain Messenger office. (credit: CBS)

“It was a mess. It’s still a mess,” said Zach Wilmeth, who was cleaning up at the store on Wednesday.

Annette Greager took over the monthly publication from her parents and it is on hold until the cleanup work is finished.

“It’s a disaster; it’s devastating. It’s really sad. It’s not my home but I grew up here,” Greager said.

It will be several more days before both businesses along Highway 72 are back up and running.

Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office said 14 homes were destroyed in Coal Creek Canyon in Colorado’s historic flooding last week. More than 200 homes were also damaged. So far a full assessment hasn’t been completed because some roads in the canyon remain inaccessible.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Eastbound Coal Creek Canyon Road (Highway 72) remains closed from Blue Mountain Estates to Ranch Elsie.

Road Closure Information

Find more information about the road closures in the canyon at jeffco.us/road-and-bridge/.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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