Flood-ravaged Colorado will get help from the Utah Army National Guard’s 1457th Engineer Battalion after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper reached a joint funding deal.
Guard Lt. Col. Hank McIntire said a 120-strong contingent left Friday to aid Colorado guardsmen in road repair and construction work in the aftermath of recent massive flooding along a section of U.S. Highway 36 in between Lyons and Estes Park, Colo.
UNG engineers had transferred vehicles and equipment to Colorado last week in preparation for the project, which gets under way Saturday. The Utah unit left Camp Williams in Bluffdale for Colorado about 6 a.m. Friday.
The continuing stalemate over federal spending had complicated the interstate assistance, but McIntire said the work was cleared this week when Herbert and Hickenlooper, acting in their respective roles of Guard commanders in chief, "arranged to share state resources to fund the mission."
During the first two weeks of September, a slow-moving cold front and monsoonal moisture collided over Colorado, bringing heavy rain and widespread flooding roughly from Colorado Springs running north to Fort Collins.
Boulder County, where much of the road reconstruction work is planned, received about 17 inches of rain within a few days’ time, nearly matching its average of about 21 inches in annual average precipitation.
In all, September’s floodwaters reportedly affected a 200-mile stretch of Colorado, prompting Hickenlooper to declare 14 counties disaster areas, a designation soon confirmed by the federal government.
UNG’s mission to Colorado will last about three weeks, after which 100 of the 120 troops are scheduled to return to Utah. McIntire said the remaining Utah guardsmen will stay on another few weeks to aid in transition as Guard units from other states join the work.
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