Heavy rain causes flooding in Manitou Springs and along Highway 24 near the Waldo Canyon burn scar

Warning issued about tetanus bacteria in debris

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Following a burst of heavy rain over the Waldo Canyon burn scar, a new round of flood waters rushed down into parts of Manitou Springs on Monday.

According to the National Weather Service in Pueblo, 0.43 inches fell in less than 20 minutes. Shortly thereafter, 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson saw brown waters flooding city streets and the Colorado Springs Fire Department reported that the flow of Fountain Creek had doubled.

U.S. 24 was closed in both directions near Manitou Springs at 2:40 p.m. because of flooding. It reopened around 4:30 p.m., when the threat of flooding had subsided.

A flash flood warning was issued for the area earlier by the National Weather Service, covering both the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest burn scars. The warning expired by 4:15 p.m. but a flash flood watch covers the  area until 3 a.m. Tuesday.

The watch cited saturated, unstable soils and the potential for heavy rainfall as potential causes of more flash flooding. That rain is possible throughout the afternoon and evening. 

As the flood waters subsided in Manitou Springs Monday, El Paso County health officials said they are concerned about the presence of tetanus bacteria. 

The bacteria can make humans sick with flu-like symptoms, even paralyze muscles. Emergency responders fear the bacteria may have been carried by the flood waters onto city streets where volunteers are working.

"It's in dirt. It's in soils. It's in feces," said Manitou Springs Fire Chief Keith Buckmiller. "We just want to make sure the people helping us don't get hurt," he said.

Volunteers and residents doing clean-up are advised to get vaccinated. A free clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Congregational Church at 103 Pawnee Avenue in Manitou Springs.  Vaccinations will be provided while they last.

For more information visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

The last round of flooding washed torrents of debris and water across Highway 24 and down into Manitou Springs on Friday. One person was killed, at least one home was destroyed and several other properties were damaged.

Steep canyons and the lack of vegetation in the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area directed water, mud and debris into the historic town.

"It's hard for us to get any equipment in there to do any kind of grooving or cutting to create channels that we can channel the water into or catch debris," Manitou Springs Fire chief Keith Buckmiller said.

Buckmiller said crews have been dropping seed on the area for the past year, but it wasn't enough to prevent the recent mudslides.

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