Demolition firm collaborates emergency response efforts in Coal Creek Canyon, Colo.
After torrential floodwaters surged through Coal Creek Canyon in Colo., some evacuated residents had tree trunks, stumps and branches piled 8 to 10 feet high at their front doors. The unprecedented flooding, which had rushed down the canyon side, washed out bridges and culverts, creating huge ditches 25 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
“You couldn’t get across some of the ditches even with climbing ropes, they were so massive,” describes Rick Givan, senior project manager of Fiore & Sons, Denver. “People had to leave their homes in the middle of t he night, walking out with just a suitcase, leaving behind pets, refrigerators full of food, and homes with no power,” he explained. “You can only imagine what they were thinking.”
After the worst of the flooding which took place Sept. 9-12, 2013, Fiore was called in by the Colorado Department of Transportation(CDOT) as an emergency responder to help get life back to normal in the canyon nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills northwest of Denver.
Already prequalified by the state of Colorado and many municipalities for emergency response, the demolition contractor, which is a member of the National Demolition Association (NDA), got right to work, collaborating along side of Lawrence Construction, a heavy civil construction company.
“The folks from the state said ‘What can you do to help us out? We want these people back in their homes’” Givan says. “And just 24 hours after attending a pre-con with the state, we were on site with our crew. It was up to Fiore and Lawrence to design the means and methods of responding to the flood damage.”
Givan says first it was critical to remove the debris off of the highway. “You’ve got fallen utility lines and exposed gas lines. There is tree and other organic materials laying all over the place, plus their possessions like four wheelers and lawn mowers washed onto the highway,” he says.
The team split up the responsibilities, with Lawrence working in the creek area, building riprap shoring along Highway 72 and other roads in the area. Fiore started with debris removal to get the road open again. Huge chunks of asphalt roadway had broken from the side of the highway, falling away and making at least one lane impassable in most areas.
“Our goal was to get the vehicles moving again and to get people back to their homes as quickly as possible,” says Givan. “People ’s pets had been deserted and the homes were susceptible to break-ins since they were left unattended. We knew we had to get moving quickly.”
Fiore’s worked crews of about a dozen men initially around the clock and for 10-hour days after that.
“They were working under lights in the night, putting in the hard work to get it all done,” says Givan.
Soon a limited amount of traffic could return to the canyon. Givan noted that Trent Nelson served as project manager and cost engineer, Tony Singh as superintendent and Carmen Sanchez as foreman on this major project. “We’ve been getting lots of kudos for the work the crews have been handling,” says Givan.
The equipment for the project has included front end loaders for the debris clean-up and material handling and small skip loaders for working in and around tight areas and narrow spots. They also used one “fairly large” track hoe excavator with a thumb for doing t he asphalt and other paving demolition and a series of tractor trailers as dump trucks, plus some tandem trucks. After Fiore cleaned up the organic debris, it has continued to remove asphalt and been working on some of the highway work alongside of Lawrence.
“We’ve imported shouldering material – crushed rock – to expand the shoulders of the road, ” Givan says. In addition to the highway work, Fiore has been responsible for demolishing some of the homes that were irreparably damaged by the flooding and not safe for occupancy.
In total, 14 homes were destroyed in the Coal Creek Canyon and 200 homes damaged. The NDA member has more highway to repair and anticipates substantial completion of the huge undertaking by Thanksgiving.
“The relationship between Fiore & Sons and Lawrence Construction and with the Colorado Department of Transportation has been a great example of how demolition contractors are especially suited to serve as ‘second responders’ after natural and manmade disasters,” Givan says.