Manitou Springs cleans up and reopens after flash flooding from the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - After several flash floods this summer, businesses in Manitou Springs want you to know they are still open and prepared, just in case.

"All the merchants have been trained to get the visitors that are in their shops or in their restaurants packed up and out and send them to the safety zones," said Floyd O'Neil with the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Manitou Springs was hit by minor floods in July and August and a large flood August 9. When rain storms hit the nearby Waldo Canyon burn scar, there's no vegetation to hold the water, so rain and debris run off the slopes, down Waldo Canyon and nearby Williams Canyon, right into Manitou Springs.

Dave Symonds, owner of the Stagecoach Inn, said when the big flood hit on a Friday night, they were ready. Symonds evacuated his customers and staff. He came back to a parking lot covered in a foot of mud, some mud in his basement storage areas and a damaged fence.

"You can just see that there's a spot where some kind of projectile went though the fence," Symonds said. "There's a whole section of it at the very end that just went down the creek."

Symonds said the difference for his business was a decision to brick up two basement windows on the creekside of his business.

"I had a mason come out and we bricked them up to the level where we thought, 'That's about where the flood water may come to,'" Symonds said. 

The water went up about 18 inches of the brick work.

"If we hadn't done that, I'm certain my basement would have been about 4 feet of water in it," Symonds said.

Symonds said when crews went into the creek behind the business to remove the debris, they pulled out several 12-foot long boards and even, a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

The Stagecoach Inn not only survived the flood, the restaurant was open the next day and hosted a birthday party.

Other businesses were not so lucky.

Good Karma coffee shop on Canon Avenue ended up in the middle of two water flows. The overflowing creek on one side and a wall of water and debris flowing down the street in front of the shop.

"It was like a river, it was a good four or five inches of rushing water," Good Karma manager Hannah Kosobucki explained. "It looked like you could go white water rafting on it."

While sandbags kept the water out of the main floor lounge, it flowed into the basement.

"It's because we had a doorway right over the creek and the water just poured in," explained Hannah Kosobucki.

The basement flooded with more than six feet of water, mud and debris. It not only ruined the items stored in the basement, it ruined the shop's hot water heater.

Fortunately, the next morning, there were dozens of volunteers ready to help cleanup.

"We had a whole bucket brigade coming up from the basement people mucking that out," Kosobucki said. "It really made the turn around a lot quicker than normal, I think."

Good Karma opened one week after the worst flooding.

Ten days later, all of the businesses in town had reopened except two, Adams Mountain Cafe and Divine Wine, which sit in a place where Canon Avenue curves. While the street curved, the water flowed into the businesses doing extensive damage to their infrastructure.

While visitors to the main shopping districts in Manitou Springs may see lines of sandbags outside businesses, much of the muck is long gone.

"You wouldn't think anything happened," O'Neil said. "Even those most damaged streets look a little dirty here and there, but we are in business."