GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado transportation officials say there was not enough time to clear the roads after flash flood warning Thursday night led to mudslides that stranded 108 drivers along Interstate 70.
Colorado’s Department of Transportation typically closes the interstate through the canyon when a flash flood warning is issued. The warning usually allows them enough time to clear the canyon before flooding begins.
CDOT spokesperson Mike Goolsby said there was not enough time between the warning and the mudslides to get people off the road.
“Sometimes the warning comes at about the same time as the water does, and that, unfortunately, is what happened,” Goolsby said. “I wish we had a little more warning, but that was unfortunately how much we had.”
A CDOT spokesperson says between 60-75 people were stuck at the Bear Ranch Rest Area Thursday night, as CDOT worked to clear an evacuation path.
Most of those people slept in their cars, with CDOT and State Patrol bringing them food and water.
Around 5 p.m. Friday, CDOT said all of those people were safely evacuated.
“Those individuals were fortunate and walked away from it,” Goolsby said. “Their cars are not in very good shape, but they are.”
Another two cars and a commercial truck remain stuck in mud inside the canyon. CDOT said they’ll need to wait for the rains to pass this weekend before retrieving them.
I-70 will be closed through the canyon at least through Monday.