Report concludes September flood damage will impact firefighters during the next fire season

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A team established to assess damage from the September floods has published findings that show the damage could adversely affect firefighters next summer.

The Flood Incident Assessment Team on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests was created in the aftermath of the flooding. The team recently published a draft of their report.

The report tallies a total of 382 miles of road, or 232 individual roads, that were damaged by flooding within the 609,000 acres assessed by the team. They also reported piles of flood debris that "may contain hazardous materials."

An estimated $17 million in damage was caused to roads, trails, campgrounds and other facilities within the national forests.

Because of the damage to the landscape, the report recommends repositioning firefighting assets to maximize the accessibility of the terrain and minimize response times.

"Emergency response vehicle access routes are destroyed in some areas where high value improvements are still intact," the report finds. "Emergency response time will be delayed in areas that roads are damaged or destroyed and unreachable except by long hikes or helicopter."

The report also suggested that the program of prescribed burns during the winter may need to be modified because of a lack of access.

Additional warnings contained in the report indicate concern about blocked or damaged culverts that could contribute to future flood damage and the water's weakening of trees that could fall in the future.

"Recovery from the flood event will take several years, additional funding and resources to address. Not all high priority infrastructure and facilities can be repaired in one year," the report says.

-- Read the full report: http://ch7ne.ws/1fqct71

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