USGS expert discusses the real possibility of another mudslide


COLLBRAN, Colo. The Collbran community is still stunned and heartbroken by the loss of Danny and Clancy Nichols and Wes Hawkins after a massive mudslide. The town remains on edge concerned about another mudslide and how bad it could be.

Collbran residents can breathe a sign of relief for now after a first look at the conditions of the mudslide.

"The initial assessment can be characterized as there is a concern but it's not a heightened concern," Jonathan Godt, USGS.

The United States Geological Survey along with the Colorado Geological Survey have organized a team to help determine the potential for more landslide activity.

Crews are setting up monitoring systems in the different locations of the slide, which has been hard to locate because of the remote location. Officials at the Mesa County Sheriff's Office say the best pin point of the slide is west of Vega Lake about six miles from Collbran.

The equipment being set up will track any movement on the Grand Mesa. According to the USGS Landslide Hazards Program Coordinator there has been some activity at the top of landslide, but everything tracked right now is expected to be small.

"It wouldn't be likely to impact the community down stream but right now we don't know enough to say what the potential for anything large is," Godt.

Mesa County surveyors are deploying GPS equipment this weekend and experts said once the technology is launched initial results and observations will be available within hours.

Slides have been reported all around the Grand Mesa because they're a natural process in the environment but there are some things researchers just can't predict far in advance.

"We can expect landslides in the future precisely when and how big and how far is a very difficult question to answer," Godt.

As for the loss of the three Collbran men, the community continues to come together to support one another and honor the lives of Danny, Clancy and Wes whose bodies have yet to be found.

An event will be held Sunday at 5 PM at the Plateau Valley School to recognize the three men. There are also two accounts set up at Grand Valley Bank for the Nichols and Hawkins family.

Donations can be made at any Grand Valley Bank in Colorado or Utah.


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