Sheriff urges evacuation of Poudre Canyon after flooding

“We recommend you get out, because this may be your last chance,” Sheriff Justin Smith said as a statement to those in the process of leaving the Poudre river area.

Residents near Poudre Canyon received a call late afternoon Thursday telling them to evacuate immediately. The National Weather Service also issued a flash flood warning at 5:33 p.m. for the area.

“We are prepared that the river is going to come up tonight,” Smith said Thursday night. “We want to make folks aware of… the conditions.”

These conditions are evidenced by the narrations of the emergency workers in Poudre Canyon Wednesday night.

“They described… Poudre Canyon being the scariest thing they have ever been in,” Smith said. “(And) this is what they do for a living.”

The workers described rocks falling onto the road and car, and being constantly on the lookout for debris to break the windshield and water to come up the road.

Timberline Church quickly responded by preparing a shelter for incoming evacuees at 2908 Timberline Rd. The church sheltered Poudre River evacuees Judy and Al Turner.

“Wherever there’s a river, they’re in danger because it’s coming down,” Judy said.

To help evacuees like Judy and Al, Red Cross Northern Colorado branch director Phyllis Dunn was called. Dunn was asked to supply Red Cross volunteers to assist at the temporary shelter.

“We called everybody we had,” Dunn said. “We never know what’s gonna happen.”

Red cross has several shelters set up around the county in preparation for the next few days.

“We want to be able to do what we do and that’s respond and help people in need and in times of crisis,” Dunn said. “We hope everybody’s getting what they need.”

This preparation is crucial, as the possibility of flooding becomes more and more of a reality.

“(The water) can only go down, not out,” said Lisa Rosintoski, the City of Fort Collins’s customer and connections division manager. “The potential [of flooding] exists.”

During the situation, residents are advised to stay away from the river and to exercise caution while driving through water.

In the meantime, Dunn is prepared for anything but hopes for the best.

“We are sure hoping that those rivers stop rising,” Dunn said.

So far, the water is continuing to rise along the Poudre River. An emergency notice from the Larimer County Sheriff’s office states flooding may be imminent.

“(This is) some pretty scary stuff,” Sheriff Smith said.

Collegian City Beat Reporter Caitlin Curley can be reached at news@collegian.com.