Colorado Springs and other points south are digging out from the #COflood

Storm pattern over Colorado September 2013: Graphic/NWS via USA Today
Storm pattern over Colorado September 2013 — Graphic/NWS via USA Today

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Wayne Heilman/Andrea Sinclair):

A nearly 10-hour power outage affected 3,700 customers in Security-Widefield, and officials are certain it was water-related, Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said Monday. According to reports, the thousands of customers lost power at 4:32 p.m. Sunday and Utilities fully restored service by 2 a.m. Monday. “We’ve been dealing with electric vaults getting water infiltration and areas where debris has washed up against a pole, causing damage to the equipment,” Berry said.

Another concern for Utilities crews has been the exposure of gas lines because of road erosion. A 40-foot-wide and 25-foot-deep sinkhole opened underneath a driveway on the 2700 block of Flintridge Drive on Sunday night, Berry said.

A nearby gas line was exposed, and gas was temporarily shut off to the residence while Utilities assessed damage. “As of 8 a.m. Monday, there was no word of any damage to the gas line, so the gas was restored,” Berry said. “But if the sinkhole continues to cave in, there’s no telling what could happen.”

A silver lining, if there is one, he said, has been the performance of the city’s wastewater system in the face of the massive walls of water that have roared down creeks and waterways. Berry said $165 million was invested on improvements to the system, and they worked. “There are lots of places where our utility services cross creeks, and the system has held up tremendously well.”

Colorado Springs got off relatively easy in other areas, too. The Denver Post reported that coal deliveries to and from Colorado are suffering delays of up to 72 hours due to washouts over railways between Denver and Boulder County. “We have not faced this problem, as we’ve been fortunate that the disaster hit us when the demand for coal isn’t quite high; it’s not the height of summer or winter, and customers aren’t cranking their air conditioning or their central heat,” Berry said. “We’re able to meet demands without problems now. If the floods keep up, then it will become a problem.”

Reservoir levels also are up from the excess rainfall. “We’re not in a position to say the drought is over, but this will help us long term, going into winter,” Berry said. “The soil moisture is saturated and in the coming winter, snow will build up on the ground, giving us a better chance for runoff. That will certainly help keep the reservoir levels up.”

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