Sandbag stations set up in Ouray as flood precaution

Potential for flood conditions during runoff due to high snowpack levels and the possibility of a quick warming of temperatures, has led the City of Ouray to order sandbags for placement along Oak Street to guard against rising levels of the Uncompahgre River. Some sections of the river are close to housing, including a mobile home park, townhomes and condos at the south end of town.

Plaindealer photo by Erin McIntyre

By Mike Wiggins and Erin McIntyre
mike@ouraynews.com
erin@ouraynews.com

Pam Larson has seen her fair share of snowy San Juan winters and the high runoff that can follow.
Born and raised in Ouray, the longtime mayor recalls plenty of towering snowbanks that road crews tunneled through and a year not too long ago where rockslide debris backed up at the top of Box Canon Falls, then broke loose as the weather warmed, triggering flooding in a few areas.
But she can't remember a time when city officials created sandbagging stations for the public, as they are doing this week.
City leaders say they are not overly concerned about snowmelt overwhelming Ouray as summer approaches, based on conversations with state emergency management officials, river managers and weather forecasters. But with statewide snowpack sitting at a remarkable 376 percent of its season-to-date average as of Wednesday — it's a whopping 659 percent in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins and 528 percent in the Gunnison River Basin — they're not taking any chances.
The city has purchased 2,000 sandbags and the sand needed to fill them up. They'll pair them with another 500 sandbags in storage and take the materials to two stations, where residents are free to fill them as needed.

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