Avalanches could cause catastrophic flooding in remote Colorado town

HINSDALE COUNTY — Heavy snowpack and unprecedented avalanche activity this season have put the tiny mountain community of Lake City on edge.

Officials in the Hinsdale County community are concerned catastrophic flooding could occur in the coming weeks, due to run-off and debris.

"I don’t think anyone every assumed that this would be to this degree that we would be facing this type of threat in Lake City,” explained Erin Cavit, a resident of Lake City. "We’ve certainly have seen high snow levels and some flooding — but never to this degree with all the avalanche debris we’re looking at this year”.

The concern is once the weather warms up and the snowpack starts melting, the avalanches will melt too and the debris inside the avalanche slides will flow downstream.

Michael Davis with the Hinsdale Unified Coordination Group said there are situations where mature trees are stacked up over 200 feet deep over Henson Creek.

Henson Creek snakes through Lake City and would likely overflow if the run-off happens.

There are also two historic dams across the stream. They’ve been breached to allow water to come through. But if the debris blocks the breach, the dams won’t be able to withstand it, Davis explained.

The dams are too old. In a worst case scenario, Davis said if the dams fill up with water and burst, they could send a huge amount of water downstream towards Lake City.

Starting Thursday morning, Lake City will begin bagging 1,000 sandbags a day for the next 15 days.

The community is looking for volunteer help.

If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to register.

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