Flooding in the western U.S. state of Colorado worsened Friday, with thousands of people in and around the city of Boulder forced to evacuate. The city record for rainfall in September set in 1940 has been shattered.
Former VOA editor Scott Herron , who moved to Boulder a year ago, says a friend rang his doorbell around midnight Thursday looking for shelter after fleeing home with his granddaughter.
Herron says he, too, is preparing for the worst.
"I live in the center of town, but up a bit of a rise. I'm in the foothills, and there's lots of water rushing down around me. But I consider us safe. But we're keeping, you know, a grab bag of some valuables, passports, laptops, phones and are ready to get out of dodge [town] if we have to."
The flooding caused by the heavy rains has already killed at least three people. The disaster comes during a major drought in Colorado and follows a string of wildfires, conditions that have added to the crisis.
"When I moved here a year ago, the concern was the forest fires, and forest fires are still a real problem," he said. "And in some ways it makes all this water even worse, because areas of the canyon -- well, several canyons that up go up out of Boulder into the foothills and then into the mountains -- are burned, and so there's no vegetation there to hold the water."
Thursday night, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Colorado, releasing federal aid and allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
But Herron says quick-changing weather patterns in the area mean the effects of the disaster might not be short-lived.
"We're only maybe four or five weeks from snow in the high country, so I don't know what that's going to do, because the mountains and the rocks are all loose now from all this water, so we could be feeling this weather pattern for some time," he said.