Gov. Hickenlooper declares disaster emergency, allocates $500,000 for Mesa County Mudslide

DENVER - Mesa County will receive $500,000 from Colorado's Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the ongoing response to Sunday's massive mudslide under a declaration of a disaster emergency from Gov. John Hickenlooper.

"The landslide area continues to be unstable, making recovery operations too dangerous to attempt," Hickenlooper's order says.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey has already warned residents of about 35 homes along Salt Creek Road to be ready to leave quickly in case there is another slide. The first slide was 2-to-3 miles long, at least three-quarters of a mile wide at the top, and about 250-feet deep, in many places. It also registered a 2.8 on the Richter scale.

Some are already packing up and leaving while others are keeping an anxious watch on the mountainside that slid earlier this week, presumably killing three of their neighbors -- Clancy Nichols, 51, his son Danny, 24, and Wes Hawkins, 46.

"The situation continues to evolve and presents significant risks to the community because responders, citizens, private homes, agricultural facilities, county roads and oil/gas infrastructure in the immediate vicinity are still vulnerable to further landslides and potential flooding," Hickenlooper's order says.

The order also memorializes Hickenlooper's verbal order to activate the Colorado National Guard to provide aviation support, notes the agencies currently working to assess the area of the slide and says the Army Corps of Engineers will provide technical assistance with the flood risk, and CH2M Hill will also provide technical assistance on a voluntary basis.

Hickenlooper and Rep. Scott Tipton are scheduled to take an aerial tour of the slide area Saturday.

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