Dream Island residents call for sandbagging plan | SteamboatToday.com

Dream Island residents call for sandbagging plan

Some in neighborhood say city should help more with flood-stopping effort

Residents of Dream Island Mobile Home Park were busy filling sandbags Monday evening as the Yampa River began to flood streets in the neighborhood.

— Residents of the Dream Island Mobile Home Park are feeling a reprieve from high water, but they don't think it will last long.

"This weekend it could be a big problem," said Bill Peck, a geology professor at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus who has lived in Dream Island for five years.

Peck, along with several other residents, is frustrated by how the community has handled the high water from the Yampa River this spring. On Thursday morning the water surrounded several trailers.

"This is a group crisis if this place floods, but it's not being handled like that," said Peck, who has started posting the daily river forecast in front of his home for neighbors to see.

"Everyone is kind of looking out for themselves."

To illustrate this point, he pointed to sandbags filled by a neighbor that he said were serving no purpose.

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"There is zero plan," Peck said. "We need a cohesive plan."

Peck said he and other members of the community needed help and guidance for fortifying their neighborhood from the river. The Yampa was flowing at 3,610 cubic feet per second at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Yampa's high flow so far this season was 4,820 cfs, set at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Dream Island Manager Monica Mackey said Thursday that the high water this spring has been overwhelming and created a lot of work. She said she has lived in the community for 22 years and has never seen this much water enter Dream Island.

So far she said she had bought 2,400 sandbags and seven dump trucks full of sand.

"I'm thinking 500 more (sandbags) hopefully should do it," Mackey said. "If not, I don't know."

Managing the flood mitigation project has presented problems and disputes among neighbors. The Steamboat Springs Police Department has helped mediate several of the incidents where tempers flared.

"I was trying to get people to put sandbags on the back, and they weren't doing it," Mackey said. "It was a mess."

Mackey said the city has been helpful and even loaned Dream Island 1,000 sandbags until Mackey could pick up more from Gypsum. Mackey said she understands why the city hasn't offered additional help.

"We are a privately owned company," she said. "I don't have any problems with the city."

The city gives sandbags and sand to Steamboat residents for free with the exception being residents who are steady users, such as the residents of Dream Island.

"By that I mean residents that have had flooding in the past but have done nothing to mitigate the problem," Steamboat Police Chief JD Hays said in a recent email about the city's sandbag program.

Residents including Peck wish the city could help more. Some Dream Island residents have bought sandbags and rented pumps on their own.

The city "spent 30 grand on the C-Hole, and the city can't pay for sandbags," Peck said.

The city spent about $27,000, including a $1,000 donation from Friends of the Yampa, for work on the Charlie's Hole river feature in November.

On Thursday a fresh load of sand was dropped off at Dream Island, and Mackey was headed to Elk River Farm & Feed to buy more sandbags.

The water was flowing under a few trailers because of several breaches in the wall of sandbags.

"We're not over the hump yet," Mackey said.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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