News / USA

Seven Confirmed Dead, 1,500 Homes Destroyed in Colorado Floods

Local residents help salvage and clean property in an area inundated after days of flooding in Hygeine, Colorado, Sept. 16, 2013.
Local residents help salvage and clean property in an area inundated after days of flooding in Hygeine, Colorado, Sept. 16, 2013.
Reuters
Seven people were confirmed dead and at least 1,500 homes destroyed in Colorado after a week of rare, torrential rains along the eastern slopes of the Rockies, and helicopter search-and-rescue flights resumed on Monday in flood-stricken areas.
 
Much of the evacuation effort was focused on remote foothill and canyon communities of Larimer and Boulder counties in north-central Colorado, where 1,000 residents remained stranded due to washed-out roads, bridges and communication lines, the county sheriff's office said.
 
Drizzle and patchy morning fog that had hampered airborne emergency operations lifted by afternoon, allowing National Guard helicopters to return to the skies to help ground teams find trapped flood victims and carry them to safety.
 
Ranchers were advised to move livestock away from rain-swollen streams as floodwaters spread further east onto the prairie, and authorities warned residents to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes that might be moving to higher ground.
 
Larimer and Boulder counties bore the brunt of flash floods first unleashed last week by heavy rains that started last Monday and drenched Colorado's biggest urban centers along a 130-mile (210 km) stretch in the Front Range of the Rockies.
 
At the peak of the disaster, the heaviest deluge to hit the region in four decades, floodwaters streamed down rain-saturated mountainsides northwest of Denver and spilled through canyons funneling the runoff into populated areas below.
 
The flooding progressed downstream and spread onto the prairie on Friday. During the weekend, waters topped the banks of the South Platte River and inundated farmland as high water rolled eastward in the direction of Nebraska.
 
Sand-Bagging Railroad Tracks
 
State officials issued flood warnings to Nebraska residents along the South Platte. State emergency management spokeswoman Jodie Fawl said they began putting sandbags inside culverts beside a Union Pacific Railroad line in the town of Big Springs to prevent a wash-out of the tracks there.
 
The Colorado Office of Emergency Management issued a statement on the disaster, putting the official death toll at seven, up from five over the weekend, but a breakdown of the fatalities was not immediately available.
 
Separately, two women, aged 60 and 80, remained missing and presumed dead after their homes were washed away by flash flooding in the Big Thompson Canyon area, Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Jennifer Hillmann said. But she said local authorities were still not counting those two women as confirmed dead because their bodies had not been recovered.
 
Nearly 400 other people remain unaccounted for in Larimer County, with many believed to be still stranded in remote areas cut off by floodwaters and left without telephone, cell phone or Internet service, she said.
 
An estimated 1,500 homes have been destroyed and 4,500 more damaged in Larimer County alone, Hillmann said. In addition, 200 businesses have been lost and 500 damaged, she said, citing preliminary assessments by the county.
 
As the weather began to clear Sunday night and Monday, rescue workers fanned out across a flood zone encompassing an area nearly the size of Delaware.
 
“They'll take advantage of the weather today and help out everyone they can,” said Micki Trost, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Emergency Management. “We hope that those weather forecasts stay in our favor.”
 
The air rescue operations were the largest in the United States since flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, National Guard officials said.
 
Bryon Louis of the National Weather Service office in Boulder said some areas had been soaked by as much as 16 inches (40 cm) of rain in just three days, the average for an entire year in the semi-arid region.
 
President Barack Obama declared the area a major disaster over the weekend, freeing up federal funds and resources to aid state and local governments.
 
U.S. Army and National Guard troops have rescued 1,750 people cut off by washed-out roads in the mountain canyons of Boulder and Larimer counties, Army spokesman Major Earl Brown said in a statement.
 
State officials would be unable to assess the overall damage until rescue efforts were complete and the floodwaters had receded, Trost said.
 
The prolonged showers were caused by an atmospheric low-pressure system that stalled over Nevada and western Utah, drawing extremely moist air out of Mexico and streaming it north into the southern Rockies, meteorologists said.
 
The last multi-day rainfall event to spawn widespread flooding in Colorado's Front Range occurred in 1969. But a single-night deluge from a 1976 thunderstorm triggered a flash flood that killed more than 140 people in Big Thompson Canyon.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid