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Clear Creek’s response to 2013 floods was a ‘proud’ moment

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By Corinne Westeman

Five years ago, Principal David Epp and 150 sixth-graders and staff members were hiking two miles to the school buses waiting for them; Commissioner Tim Mauck was listening to the eerie sounds of boulders rolling down the creek outside his house; and Sheriff Rick Albers was running incident command out of Idaho Springs’ fire station.
On Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, massive flooding hit the mountain area, including Clear Creek County’s Upper Bear Creek and Yankee Creek areas; the Mount Evans Outdoor Laboratory School; Beaver Brook Canyon Road; Floyd Hill; and Soda Creek.
While there was one fatality and millions of dollars in damage to public and private properties, Clear Creek officials said the community’s response to the disaster is something they take pride in.
“It was certainly one of the proudest moments that I got to witness as a county commissioner,” Mauck said. “… It demonstrated that Clear Creek County is one of those special places that rises to those types of challenges.”
At the Mount Evans Outdoor Lab, Epp and his staff were hosting more than 100 sixth-graders from Arvada elementary schools, along with teachers and high school aides.
It was a two-mile hike to where the school buses were waiting for them, Epp described. As soon as there was a break in the weather, everyone started hiking.
“Everybody rose to the challenge,” Epp continued.
For Epp, the school had a chance to rebuild, despite millions of dollars in damage. The sewage system, retention ponds and foundations were revisited, and the post-flooding rebuilds allowed the school to be more efficient.
“We have never really thought that a flood was high on our list of things to be prepared for. We do drills about losing a student, bear attack or forest fire,” he said, “but, it’s reasonable to always expect the unexpected.”
Both Mauck and Albers emphasized the CodeRed system, which residents can sign up for on the Sheriff’s website. After signing up, residents will receive alerts about any emergent situations in their area, such as fires, floods and armed suspects.
For the full version of this story, visit www.clearcreekcourant.com.