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Colorado floods: Isolated Storm Mountain residents can leave but can't return

Some residents of communities on Storm Mountain think the road that cuts through Joe Dion's property offers a lifeline to bring supplies into their communities so they don't have to evacuate.
One problem: If they can make it down the washed-out stretch of terrain that leads to the road and leave Dion's property, they are barred from returning.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which has control of the road through Dion's property and opens it to hunters during the year, won't allow them to come back. "It's not safe," said Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill.
Larimer County has also barred those who leave from returning, she said. And on Tuesday, the Forest Service closed portions of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grassland that include the road.
"All we are asking for is access to get supplies up here," said Lynette Coffey, 66, of Cedar Park, which sits on the mountain near the Big Thompson Canyon.
In normal times, residents use U.S. 34, now closed because of flood damage, said Andy Hitch, 43, who lives near Masonville and has property on the mountain.
Residents have been collecting bottled water and other supplies and want to bring it to their isolated neighbors, but they can't because of the road closures, he said.
The Forest Service trail could easily be repaired, Hitch said, and residents are upset they can't get back in if they leave. "Just let some people get in there with a couple of shovels and do the work. I don't understand what the problem is," he said.  more

The Denver Post did this story justice today.

I spoke with some folks on Storm Mountain today after sheriff Smith’s visit. He walked the road they have been secretly rebuilding since day one. It (along with one other), is now passable in a normal 4x4 SUV or truck. We expect an announcement by authorities tomorrow, as supplies are running low up there. 

The evacuated and remaining residents are optimistic, hoping to return and resupply. Nothing but praises for sheriff Smith. We believe he is a man of his word. 

Once things are resolved, we need to begin work on a contingency plan. Disaster circumstances should trump private property ownership. Gates should unlock immediately for egress and managed ingress. 

Andy Hitch


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