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Neighbors help neighbors dig out of flooded areas along Upper Bear Creek

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By Sandy Barnes

Neighbors were helping Upper Bear Creek resident Mark Footer clean up his yard and garage on Saturday afternoon while two backhoe operators shoveled debris from the property.

“The creek just covered the whole valley,” Footer said, describing the recent heavy rains that caused Bear Creek to rise over its banks.

Although his yard is soggy and many items in his garage were ruined, only one room of his home suffered damage, Footer said.

“We really came out well,” he said.

Footer said he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Jeff DeDisse, an Evergreen firefighter and member of the Evergreen Fire Protection District board. 

“He saved the day on Thursday,” said Footer, a member of the Evergreen Park and Rec District board.

Early on, DeDisse organized efforts to place sandbags around Footer’s home, with help from neighbors, firefighters and the National Guard. 

Footer estimated that more than 1,000 sandbags were brought to his home and that of his neighbor during the flood. 

While some homes had water damage in garages and basements and residents were dealing with flooded roads, there was only one accident during the flood, Footer said.

A dog named Nola fell into the creek on Saturday evening and became trapped in an air pocket, Footer said. 

“We called 911, and members of a swift-water rescue team were on site within 15 minutes,” he said. “They really did do a great job.”

The canine survived and went home with his owners, who live in Segers Acres, Footer said.

During the flooding, some residents in the Upper Bear Creek area were temporarily stranded because of destroyed private bridges on which the raging creek wreaked havoc, said resident Bryan McFarland. The residents eventually found alternate paths from their homes by using bridges that were still intact, he said.

After receiving notification about flooded conditions along Upper Bear Creek, resident Mary Mosby said she left her home on South Meadow Lane on the evening of Sept. 12. Her husband, Jim Mosby, was out of town when the flooding began. After he returned the next day, the couple were able to go back to their home. 

More than 2 feet of water flowed around their property during the flood, Jim Mosby said.

Because their home had been specially constructed to withstand flooding, Jim Mosby said, he didn’t have flood insurance. The home did stay dry, he added.

“Nothing like this has ever happened,” said Mosby, who has lived in Colorado since the 1970s. 

Both Upper Bear Creek Road and South Meadow Drive were under water and impassable. Like many residents in the area, the Mosbys parked their car in a safe place and walked from the home to the vehicle. Residents traveled along a detour directing them onto Witter Gulch and Stagecoach roads leading to Evergreen and Interstate 70.

Now that the creek has dropped below the road, South Meadow Lane is passable, but has extensive damage along the sides. 

Upper Bear Creek Road was partially closed and open only to local traffic from the time the flooding began on Sept. 12 until last Friday evening. Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies and Colorado State Patrol officers had been checking with drivers on the road to make sure they were local residents.

In addition to the flooding, Jeffco Road and Bridge staff had been concerned about the stability of a bridge on Upper Bear Creek Road.

By Saturday afternoon, the road was free of water, except for a portion in Clear Creek County just beyond the intersection with Witter Gulch Road.

However, gray clouds were forming in the sky, and a few drops of rain were beginning to fall. And the creek was still running high, muddy and close to road level in many places.

“We’re hoping the creek regains its memory,” said Footer.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.