Watch CBS News

People near Cameron Peak burn scar learn to live with flood after flood

People near Cameron Peak burn scar learn to live with flood after flood
People near Cameron Peak burn scar learn to live with flood after flood 02:20

Another flash flood Monday pushed muddy and debris-littered water down the tributaries and into the Big Thompson River. In Glen Haven, it covered roads and washed away chunks of packed dirt. 

"We've already had six flash floods plus we had another two on Saturday and one on Sunday. And you know it sort of becomes a way of life, you know to expect this," said Barb Blue.

Blue is caring for her husband who is now in hospice care at their home. A month ago one flood hit the deck of the home they love. 

"Ruined our deck, tore off the railings. Took all of the furniture off of the deck," said Blue. 

The stress of flood after flood is not easy.  

"Emotionally it's tough. I'm wearing out because I do a lot of work." But leaving their home is not something they want to do. "We came here because we love it here, we've done a lot of work on this property and we've gone through all these hardships. An we're hoping to stay," said Barb.

Downstream in Drake, newcomers Justin Snell and Charista Huecker parked a trailer along the North Fork of the Big Thompson two months ago after Justin landed a job in Colorado. 

"I don't think we fully understood until we actually moved up here," said Huecker. 

But they feel like they've found a home and love it along the river. When the weather is good, the water is crystal clear and it's beautiful. 

"Sunny and blue skies and elk and bear and deer running around. Part of mountain living is assuming the risk that comes with it," Huecker said. 

They've learned to think about the flood risk from the Cameron Peak burn scar that looms in the higher country above them. Much of it is federal land that has hardly been mitigated. Other slopes are too steep for the mulch that help hold back the soils and create new growth. Some of the soils are so burned they are considered hydrophobic, which means, unable to absorb water. It rolls right off.

"We probably got three inches of rain here in Drake today. Not really a concern for us. That's a concern for people down the mountain. It's when it rains heavy in Glen Haven and off this side of Crystal Mountain. All of that comes right down Miller Fork right to us," said Snell. 

"You have to learn to watch the weather 15-20 miles away because that's where the water's going to flow and come to us," said Huecker. 

Charista has come to love the area so much over only a matter of weeks, she has picked up its history. She learned of the terrifying Big Thompson Flood of 1976 from the property manager at the RV park where they are staying. Then she went to the Dam Store downriver and bought history books. 

"That's something when I learned about the floods is I learned about the resilience of the people here in Glen Haven and Drake. It's pretty crazy and it's also very heartwarming to also be in such a cool place that has that heart behind it you know," said Hucker.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.