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.
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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs