News / USA

    National Guard Evacuating Colorado Town Caught in Flood

    Colorado National Guardsmen respond to floods in Boulder County, Colorado, in this handout photo provided by the Army National Guard, Sept. 12, 2013.
    Colorado National Guardsmen respond to floods in Boulder County, Colorado, in this handout photo provided by the Army National Guard, Sept. 12, 2013.
    Reuters
    The National Guard worked to rescue an entire Colorado town of about 1,600 people on Friday, a day after they were cut off by raging floodwaters that have killed at least three people, washed out dams and turned roads into rivers across the state.
     
    As forecasters called for some let-up in record rains that have caused the worst flooding in Colorado in over three decades, Guard members in high-clearance vehicles drove truckloads of residents through floodwaters up to three feet (one meter) deep, out of the remote town of Lyons.
     
    “These individuals are not only coming with just themselves, but with their suitcases and their precious household items along with their pets and everything, all getting loaded in the back of these vehicles,” said First Lieutenant Skye Robinson, a spokesman for the Colorado National Guard.
     
    The flooding was triggered by unusually intense late-summer storms that drenched Colorado's biggest urban centers, stretching 130 miles (210 km) along the eastern slopes of the Rockies from Fort Collins near the Wyoming border south through Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.
     
    Lyons, north of Boulder, was virtually cut off when floodwaters washed out U.S. Route 36, and residents have been  without water and power for 48 hours, said Mike Banuelos, a spokesman for the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center.
     
    “It's a pretty dangerous situation,” he said.
     
    Kari Bowen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the rains should slow on Friday, but intermittent showers may still bring up to an inch (2.5 cm) of rain to hard-hit Boulder and Larimer counties as the bulk of the rainfall moved east.
     
    Rainfall Records Shattered
     
    “We're still expecting some flooding to occur, but not quite as bad as the last couple of days in terms of the amount of rain that we've been getting,” she said.
     
    Governor John Hickenlooper said evacuations were the highest priority and advised people to stay out of debris- and sand-filled floodwaters that were “almost like liquid cement.”
     
    “It's got to be the largest storm that I can imagine in the state's history,” he told a televised news conference.
     
    The flooding was the worst in the state since nearly 150 people were killed near Boulder in 1976 by a flash flood along the Big Thompson Canyon.

    • John Hoffenberg watches the flow of water increase in Boulder, Colorado, Sept. 15, 2013.
    • An aerial photo of a flood-affected area of northern Colorado along the Big Thompson River, Sept. 14, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard Handout photo)
    • An aerial view of vehicles submerged in flood waters along the South Platte River near Greenley, Colorado, Sept. 14, 2013.
    • Children board a rescue helicopter flown by the U.S. Air National Guard after severe flooding shut down major roads leading out of Jamestown, Colorado, Sept. 14, 2013. (U.S. Air National Guard Handout photo)
    • Will Pitner is rescued by emergency workers and neighbor Jeff Writer after a night trapped outside on high ground above his home as it filled with water after days of record rain and flooding at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colorado, Sept. 13, 2013.
    • Boulder Creek flows at high speed next to a road closed off by debris from days of rain and flooding, at the base of Boulder Canyon, Colorado, Sept. 13, 2013.
    • Nick Carter shovels debris as heavy rains cause severe flooding in Boulder, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013.
    • A home and car are stranded after a flash flood in Coal Creek destroyed the bridge near Golden, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013. 
    • A section of Highway 72 is missing after a flash flood tore through Coal Creek near Golden, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013. 
    • Matthew Messner looks for a way to cross the sidewalk covered by heavy rains in Boulder, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013.

    President Barack Obama approved a federal disaster assistance request, which will release funds to help with emergency protection.
     
    In Boulder, the storms shattered the rainfall record for September set in 1940, officials said, unleashing surging floodwaters in Boulder Canyon above the city that triggered the evacuation of some 4,000 residents late on Thursday.
     
    Also on Friday, flooding forced the Colorado Department of Transportation to shut down a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 25 from north of Denver to the border with Wyoming, said Mindy Crane, a spokeswoman for the agency.
     
    It represents one of the largest freeway closures in recent years in Colorado, said agency spokesman Bob Wilson.
     
    In Denver on Friday, a man who was swept into a culvert by raging waters was rescued about four blocks away along with his dog, said Denver Fire Department spokesman Mark Watson. “He was pretty beat up, but conscious and talking, certainly was glad to be out of there,” he said.
     
    20 People 'Out of Contact'
     
    Boulder County Sheriff's Commander Heidi Prentup told reporters on Friday that about 20 people in the county were “out of contact,” with loved ones notifying authorities that they have been unable to reach them. But it was not immediately clear if they were in danger.
     
    Boulder Creek, which runs through the heart of Boulder, became a raging torrent that burst its banks and flooded adjacent parking lots and streets as warning sirens wailed.
     
    In Longmont, about 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Boulder, the St. Vrain River jumped its banks, cascading across main thoroughfares and cutting the city in two.
     
    Assistant city manager Shawn Lewis said 7,000 households were under mandatory evacuation orders. The city opened two emergency shelters for displaced residents.
     
    A dozen major roads in northeastern Colorado remained shut with significant damage from flooding, mudslides, rockfalls and other debris, the Colorado Department of Transportation said late on Thursday.
     
    Heavy summer rains are not unusual for Colorado, but the intensity and duration of the downpour that began on Monday night was unprecedented.
     
    A flood watch was extended until 12 p.m. MDT (1800 GMT) on Friday for the entire Front Range.
     
    The National Weather Service said at least 12.3 inches (31.24 cm) of rain have fallen on Boulder this month, smashing a 73-year-old record of 5.5 inches (14 cm) for September.
     
    Among the casualties of the floods was a person whose body was found in a collapsed building near Jamestown, an evacuated enclave north of Boulder.
     
    A couple were swept away in floodwaters after stopping their car northwest of the city. The man's body was recovered but the woman was missing and feared dead, said Commander Heidi Prentup of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.
     
    Police found the body of a third confirmed fatality, a man, during flood-watch patrols in Colorado Springs, about 100 miles (160 km) to the south, officials said.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora