By 5:45 p.m., all the residents of the El Paso Apartments must be evacuated to the Manitou Springs High School.
The first crashing wave of the flood waters hits Manitou Springs at the upper reach of Ruxton Creek. Because the channel is lined with concrete in its upper stretch, its flow is restricted and its velocity is increased.
The portion of the channel that flows beneath the Iron Springs Chateau Hotel is unable to retain the flow, sending a six-foot surge of water through the main dining room. Diners are caught completely off-guard by the flood.
Seventeen lives are lost.
A crashing wall of water hits the western part of Downtown Manitou. The tourists and the residents that remain behind are swept away with the wall of water.
Nineteen more people are killed.
Power shortages occur as power lines are torn down. Cars, trees, and animals fill the advancing waters. Gas and electric lines are destroyed, causing power outages and small explosions. Cottages and motels once found along the lowland floodplain are washed out, many dislocated off their foundations (Fig. 4).
By 6:00 p.m., Colorado Springs' officials are having difficulty entering Manitou Springs due to the severe flooding. Flood water in the overbanks is exceeding ten feet in depth and flow velocities are now exceeding fifteen feet per second. By now, most residents and workers at City Hall have evacuated.
Standing on higher ground, people are trying to take pictures and record the flood with their video cameras.
The Manitou Springs fire and police departments face further difficulties as a crushing force of water knocks down the support beams for City Hall, causing the back half of the building to collapse into Fountain Creek. Luckily, the building had been evacuated earlier.
Older structures located along Fountain Creek suffer the most damage as the flood reaches its peak (Figs. 5 & 6). The numerous businesses and tourist shops that lie parallel to the creek and to Manitou Avenue are demolished as the creek roars past. Video and pinball machines from the Arcade are left in a mass of debris, leaving the Manitou Mall area devastated. The Spa suffers major damage as the floodwaters undercut its foundation.
By 6:30 p.m., the rain has ended, and the floodwaters begin to subside. People who had climbed to safety are now finding a warm cup of coffee and a blanket from the Red Cross. Helicopters and flashing lights surround the surreal landscape. Survivors are crying over the loss of their loved ones and homes. Forty-seven people died in the flood, with scores more still missing.
Please continue to page 3.