The Higland Ditch Company is spending $1.5 million fixing the heart of its canal system along the St. Vrain River outside Lyons, Colo.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media
When September’s flood waters came down the Front Range foothills, it unleashed tremendous pressure on an aging irrigation infrastructure, some of which dated back to the late 1800s. As the weather warms, it’ll be a race to mend the damaged or destroyed ditches before the snow starts to melt.
It’s been six months since heavy rain flooded 24 Colorado counties, damaging businesses, homes, roads and ending 10 lives. An estimated 28,000 residents were impacted and nearly 1,000 businesses were damaged or destroyed.
When it comes to business, the small towns of Lyons and Estes Park have faced a particularly steep road to recovery.
Some good news for towns hit hardest by September’s flooding. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced availability of nearly $63 million in federal recovery funds to help individuals and communities rebuild.
Thousands of people were displaced from their homes in September’s floods, including hundreds who were airlifted out of mountain towns cut off by the raging waters. For those evacuated from the secluded mountain community of Big Elk Meadows, it’s not clear when they will be able to go back home.