Gov. Hickenlooper tours Mesa County mudslide, surveys damage

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. -- Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper saw firsthand the massive destruction left behind after a mudslide in Mesa County, nearly a week ago.

The mudslide happened just 11 miles from the small town of Collbran on the Western Slope.

Hickenlooper and other community leaders toured the damage from a helicopter Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the United States Forest Service continued to evaluate the unstable situation.

The service worked to install cameras to monitor the landslide for further movement, trying to do it without putting anyone in danger.

"The potential for another slide is certainly there. We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect the people that live in the Collbran area," congressman Scott Tipton said.

Governor Hickenlooper added, "Seeing it is always very different than reading about something or seeing photographs or video."

The group, which also included several local officials, took in the widespread damage caused by nature.

The governor described it, saying, "You could see the part where it just spilled over, I mean all this rock and boulders just kind of flowed over the lip of the drainage like it was the side of the bathtub."

Father and son, Clarence and Danny Nichols, and Wesley Hawkins died in the slide.

Their bodies still haven’t been found.

There will be funeral services for the three men Sunday.

"The nature of rural Colorado is we're a tight community," Tipton said. "People that work and care about each other. When we lose three valuable members of the community it is certainly felt."

While the community mourns the loss, teams worked to create a data bank to make models and estimations.

"I think we're going to try to study the living daylights out of it and make sure we mitigate and diminish risk as much as humanly possible,” the governor said.

There are no mandatory evacuations for the town, but the area is considered unstable and risky.

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