MESA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– People who live near the area where a deadly landslide occurred two years ago were urged to be prepared to leave. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office has escalated the situation to an elevated alert level.
The pond began releasing water early Friday, cutting a new drainage channel in the landslide. That prompted a warning to residents to be ready to evacuate.
“We don’t want any more rain is what we’re trying to avoid,” said Collbran resident Jim Hautama. “We’ve been under sort of a threat but nobody really knows because nobody can really say how much water was up there being held or when it was going to come down or anything else.”
Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door warning people in about 30 homes of the potential danger.
“All the important stuff is sitting there in the fifth-wheel all we’ve got to do is grab the cats and we’re out of here,” said Hautama.
Officials say there was less water flowing down the landslide by Friday afternoon and GPS didn’t detect any movement in the landslide.
Despite the good news, a flood watch is still in place and residents are asked to remain on alert.
“We modeled it in a number of ways with our partners, the USGS and various others and this did exactly what we were hoping it would do,” said Mesa County Public Works Director Pete Baier.
On May 25,2014, Clarence Allen “Clancy” Nichols, 51, Melvin Wesley Hawkins, 46, and Daniel Allen Nichols, 24, were swept away in a mudslide a half-mile wide and three miles long about 11 miles south of Collbran.
They had been checking on irrigation problems caused by an initial slide when a large chunk of a ridge broke off, sending soggy earth spilling like wet cement. Their bodies were never found.
On Friday, road and bridge equipment was staged in Collbran as well as thousands of sand bags in case of flooding. The initial water surge went through the town of Collbran without overflowing the banks of Plateau Creek.
Officials said there were reports of erosion on Salt Creek Road which is a local county road. That road will remain closed.
Everyone is urged to stay out of the area. No injuries or serious damage have been reported. A flood watch has been issued for the area.