Man found buried; 1 missing after severe flooding in Manitou Springs
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — Volunteers continue to help clean up the damage brought to Manitou Springs after heavy rain brought flooding and mudslides to the area Friday evening.
One man was found buried under thick mud and rock in the westbound lane of U.S. 24 near the Manitou Springs exit.
The victim was identified as 53-year-old John Collins of Teller County. The El Paso County Coroner believes Collins drowned in the flood waters. Police said his vehicle was in the same area where his body was found, but they are not sure whether Collins left his vehicle by choice, or if the rapidly rushing water and debris forced him out of the vehicle.
Three other people were unaccounted for Saturday morning, however two of them had been found safe as of Sunday night.
Manitou Springs police confirmed that 24-year-old Juston Travis, who lives in a house on Narrows Road, called to check in with his family on Sunday. He had previously been feared missing.
Police are also looking for a petite woman who was seen clinging to a tree during the flood. The woman is blonde, and was wearing a black blouse and tan pants, according to police.
There was damage to several homes and businesses along Canon Ave. Vehicles were washed away as streets closed in the Canon Avenue area and western Manitou Springs. At least one home was completely destroyed in the flood.
Police told people to stay away from the town Friday night.
The Waldo Canyon burn zone received about 1.5 inches of rain in a very short period of time.
The muddy floodwaters – swelling Fountain Creek out of its banks in downtown Manitou Springs Friday night.
Off in the distance – the patio of a restaurant – Adam’s Mountain Cafe suffered major damage from the messy runoff.
Video posted to Facebook shows banged-up cars, covered in mud and debris, surrounded by the flash flood.
One picture showed a truck and an SUV tossed against each other by the raging water.
All over the town vehicles were covered to the wheel wells by the rainy deluge.
The flooding closed U.S. highway 24, stranding drivers and flooding homes and businesses. Some vehicles were likely totaled as a result of the flood. One lane in each direction reopened late Friday night.
Along Canon Avenue in Manitou Springs, neighbors say one home was swept away. There were reports of gas leaks. Helpless residents watched flood waters rush by. Police moved in to close off the roads.
Along nearby Highway 24 a massive rock slide sent boulders and debris into the road.
Cell phone video shows the highway – rushing with water – drivers, stuck with nowhere to go.
“Oh My God, Oh My God.”
It’s an eerily similar scene to what we saw along Highway 24 a month ago when two dozen drivers were washed off the road, or stuck in the mud, in the same area.
The flooding – a common occurrence lately west of Colorado Springs – is caused by a lack of vegetation and muddy runoff after last year’s deadly Waldo Canyon Fire.
Friday night the problems stretched to the west side of Colorado Springs where crews performed a swift water rescue – pulling a man in soaked clothes out of a creek.
But it’s in Manitou Springs where the biggest mess remains. It’s a town that, once again, is trashed by fast moving water.
Manitou Springs residents were urged to wear protective gear as they began cleaning up after the mess.
Eight people reportedly spent the night at the emergency Red Cross shelter.
More rain is expected Saturday. A flash flood watch is in effect from noon until 9 p.m.