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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs