The Town of Vail has established two distribution points for free sand material and empty bags for residents and merchants who wish to safeguard their property from the possibility of high water. Sand and bags are available at the parking lot near the I-70 interchange in East Vail and at the North Trail parking lot in West Vail. Residents should bring a shovel and be prepared to fill their own bags while supplies last. Contractors are asked to make their own arrangements for sandbags for commercial construction projects.
Spring run-off typically peaks between late-May and mid-June, when streams reach their highest flow and height. The Vail Mountain SNOTEL station received 94 percent of normal snow water equivalent (a measure of water content in the existing snowpack) this season and peaked May 1. As of May 20, the site is at 86 percent of normal. Gore Creek flows have ranged from 70 to 125 percent of normal in the last week, due to temperature fluctuations and precipitation events. Snowpack levels alone do not provide a good indication as to whether or not a flooding event will occur as it did in 2010, according to Tom Kassmel, the town’s floodplain administrator. He says the main contributing factor to a large scale run-off flood event is snowmelt rate. A cold, snowy spring with a quick warm up in late May and early June, sets the stage for high flows. For daily updates on stream flow data, visit the U.S. Geological Survey website. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/co/nwis/current/?type=flow&group_key=huc_cd.
Gore Creek and other Eagle County river data are available by scrolling down to 14010003 Eagle.
Floodplain maps are available online. The maps indicate the approximate floodplain locations in Vail, and can be used as a reference for homeowners to determine whether their property is located near a floodplain area. Insurance rates are based on official Flood Insurance Rate Maps created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Copies of these maps are available for review at the Town of Vail Public Works Department, 1309 Elkhorn Drive or may be ordered by calling 1-877-FEMA-MAP (336-2627) or available at msc.fema.gov. FEMA elevation certificates are available at the Town on specific properties. The Town of Vail is a member of the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP), which allows every property owner in Vail the option to purchase flood insurance, regardless of the property’s location. An interactive map showing sand distribution sites, stream-flow monitoring stations, historic flood prone areas, high-water checkpoints, GSA hazards, and FEMA floodplain information is available here.
Area streams most prone to flooding in Vail include: Black Gore Creek near The Heather and Gore Creek at the intersection of Bridge Road and Lupine Drive in East Vail; Mill Creek near Mill Creek Circle in Vail Village; and Red Sandstone Creek near the Brooktree Condominiums and Buffehr Creek from Circle Drive to the North Frontage Road in West Vail. As the weather warms, police and public safety crews will begin daily water level checks at approximately 90 locations throughout the town, including culverts, catch basins and bridges. Nightly checks are added to the rounds once the peak run-off season hits. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District crews monitor rising river levels and large stream debris that could pose a hazard to aerial mains that cross the creek.
Additional flood prevention efforts will be taking place this spring when town crews will be sandbagging some of the problem areas, such as the Covered Bridge in Vail Village, in advance of the snowmelt. Private property owners are being encouraged to do the same and to remove the sandbags once flood season ends. Citizens who observe large amounts of debris in the creeks near bridges or aerial pipe crossings, or significant running water in unusual places are encouraged to call 911.
Information on flood preparedness efforts and sandbag availability throughout the county can be found at eaglecounty.us.
Anyone wishing to volunteer for possible emergency sandbagging operations should contact the Vail Police Department at 970-479-2200 and register with the Community Emergency Response Team. Residents are asked to avoid getting near flooded areas or fast moving water without appropriate safety gear and training.
Residents are reminded of the importance of being prepared for any emergency by assembling a kit containing a three-day food and water supply, as well as medications, toiletries, pet supplies, flashlight, radio and extra batteries. Visit ready.gov for more recommendations on personal emergency preparedness.
To receive free emergency alerts on flooding and other hazards via email and/or text message, subscribe to the countywide emergency alert system at ecalert.org. For information on sandbag materials in Vail, contact Vail Streets Superintendent Charlie Turnbull at 970-477-3425 or call his cell phone at 390-3008 in case of an emergency.
Contact: Tom Kassmel, 970-479-2235
Vail Floodplain Administrator