1 dead, 3 missing in Colo. mudslide, flash floods

3:37 PM, Aug 10, 2013   |    comments
Kelsey McKiel watches as Camp Creek, normally a small stream, races with soot and mud after a flash flood from the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar swept through Manitou Springs, Colo., on Friday. (Photo: Bryan Oller, AP)
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(USA TODAY - Manitou Springs, Colo.) At least one person is dead and three are missing in Manitou Springs, Colo., after a mudslide and flash flooding Friday night caused massive damage in an area burned by the Waldo Canyon wildfire last year.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office confirmed a man's body was found in flash flooding debris along U.S. 24 on Friday, KUSA reported. The body was not found inside a vehicle, and the identity of the victim is not yet known as no form of identification was with the body.

At a news conference Saturday morning, the Manitou Springs Fire Department confirmed several people are missing, and the department is going door-to-door to try to account for everyone, KUSA reported. The three people unaccounted for include a woman last seen hanging in a tree near a creek, a man whom neighbors have not seen since the floods and Juston Travis, 24, whose mother reported she was unable to contact him, KUSA and The Gazette reported.

Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro said several homes have been destroyed and the town suffered significant damage in the flood.

At least three were injured as violent floodwaters swept through much of the town, lifting homes from their foundations, littering the streets with debris and pushing vehicles off the highway, the Gazette reported.

The mudslide closed U.S. 24 between Cascade and Manitou Springs, located west of Colorado Springs. The highway has been partially reopened. Flooding also closed part of U.S. 50.

"It's just absolute chaos," Elissa Hokenstad, assistant manager of the Manitou Springs Arcade, told the Gazette.

"We always have to keep it in the back of our minds, but I didn't think it would happen tonight," said Hokenstad, who spent the evening with employees mopping mud from the game room floors and pumping water from flooded basements.

Michael Cercone told the Gazette that he saw a home get swept away in the flood waters.

"I never expected like a home to wash down the street, not at all," Cercone said.

At The Cliff House at Pikes Peak, the hotel's staff regularly put sandbags around the lower deck and back doors as a precaution when the forecast calls for rain. They did it again Friday, but it didn't help.

"The sandbags we put up were washed out almost immediately," Cliff House front-office manager Roland Sardaczuk told the Associated Press. "The cars parked on Park Avenue - the water just threw them around like they were toys."

The National Weather Service says about 1.3 inches of rain fell in about a half hour in the area burned by the Waldo Canyon Fire, which destroyed 347 homes, killed two people and burned more than 18,000 acres last year. Areas burned by wildfires are particularly vulnerable to flash floods because the burned soils don't absorb as much water.

It was the fourth flash food to strike the area this year, the Gazette reported.

Contributing: KUSA; The Associated Press

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