Evans residents can now flush toilets

Some restrictions remain in effect

EVANS, Colo. - The city of Evans has been dealing with standing water, drinking water issues and sewage problems as a result of the statewide flash flood.  By afternoon Saturday, some major improvements had unfolded.

Emergency crews say significant headway had been made, but drainage continued into the evening Saturday.  The scene had changed dramatically over the previous 24 hours.

The issue was a raging hole that needed a giant plug. Friday, there was a 70-foot gap in the Evans Riverside Park levee.

"You know, this levee was probably built a hundred years ago or better," explained Tim Batchelor, the Operations Chief for the State Type 3 Team.

Using crunched remains of a recently demolished school nearby, work crews started to fill in the large broken levee space on Friday. Saturday, city leaders were relieved to hear the water had officially changed direction. 

At peak, an estimated fifty percent of the river's volume flowed through the levee break.  The force of flood waters carried nine, one-ton pre-fabricated concrete blocks about a half-mile away. One landed in a carport, another in a field.

The open baseball fields where hundreds had celebrated "Evans Fest" just weeks ago became an expanse of rapids.

"All of this was moving water, and it was rapidly-moving water, so we couldn't send anybody in here to begin assessments of downstream," explained Chuck Balke, Deputy of Operations and Assistant Fire Chief for the Cortez Fire District. 

The force of the water pushed one mobile home across a street and into the middle of a field, appearing to have been moved in one piece.

"Twenty-four hours ago, in this area, we had water knee-deep," Balke said, pointing to the Eastwood Village Mobile Home Community.

Some areas of the mobile home neighborhood remain underwater, and residents are not yet being allowed to retrieve belongings from all homes.

An oil well and tank battery have been inspected and city leaders say, they are okay. 

Regardless of the destruction, city leaders feel fortunate.  Mayor of Evans, Lyle Achziger, says cross-county emergency training costing more than a half-million dollars was completed three years ago.  The City of Greeley also underwent the training, according to Greeley Mayor Tom Norton, which helped in the areas communicate during the disaster.

Achziger says, due to the training, lives were saved, "without a doubt."

Rebuilding and construction in parts of Evans will not be allowed for at least six months, Achziger says.

Meanwhile, a "no flush" order was lifted Saturday.  The news brought cheers from residents at a community meeting.  In the initial flood, the Evans Water Treatment plant was damaged.  Saturday, residents were allowed to again wash their hands, flush toilets and shower in their homes.  As repairs are made, pumps in Evans are sending water to the Greeley plant.

Norton explained, "We've got to make sure that his pumps and our pumps and everything is working at the same speed, so we got to phase it in a little bit and make sure we're getting good treatment out of it."

Residents are being asked to conserve water going down the drain and refrain from doing laundry. But outside water use, such as the watering of lawns, using a garden hose, and washing of cars, is allowed.

When it is clear the Evans plant is operating normally, the remaining restrictions will be lifted.

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