News / USA

Three Dead, Hundreds Evacuated in Colorado Flooding

Overflowing St. Vrain River swamps structure and piece of heavy machinery following overnight flash flooding near Lyons, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013.
Overflowing St. Vrain River swamps structure and piece of heavy machinery following overnight flash flooding near Lyons, Colorado, Sept. 12, 2013.
Reuters
Flash flooding unleashed by torrential downpours in Colorado has killed at least three people and forced hundreds to flee to higher ground as rising water toppled buildings and stranded motorists in their cars, officials said on Thursday.
 
Heavy rains drenched Colorado's biggest urban areas, 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.
 
Among the hardest-hit areas was Boulder County, where the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning through 10 p.m. local time (0400 GMT). Flood watches were also posted for several counties in central and north-central parts of Colorado.
 
"There is water everywhere," said Andrew Barth, the emergency management spokesman in Boulder County. "We've had several structural collapses. There's mud and muck and debris everywhere. Cars are stranded all over the place."

Story continues below photo gallery: 
  • 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.

At least six inches (15 cm) of rain has fallen on the city of Boulder and up to eight inches (20 cm) were measured in the foothills west of town, said Kari Bowen, a Weather Service meteorologist in Boulder, northwest of Denver.
 
The rains transformed Boulder Creek, which runs through the heart of the city and the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, into a raging torrent that overran its banks and flooded adjacent parking lots and streets.
 
Water gushed over sidewalks, roads and bike paths throughout the downtown area as sirens wailed and public-address loudspeakers urged residents to stay clear of high water: "Warning: Flash flood. Please proceed to higher ground. Do not cross standing or running water. Do not cross Boulder Creek."
 
The university campus was closed for the day, as were Boulder-area public schools and all municipal office buildings.
 
More than 400 students were evacuated from ground-floor campus housing overnight, campus police spokesman Ryan Huff said. Roughly 40 buildings on campus were believed to have sustained some flood-related damage, Huff said.
 
Ron Cobbley, 49, a homeless man who had been camping along the Saint Vrain River west of Boulder near the town of Ward, said he decided to leave the woods and head into town after three days in the rain.
 
"It was raging with whitewater," he said of the river.
 
Extremely dangerous conditions
 
Steady rain which began on Monday grew more intense late Tuesday and into Wednesday. Roads across the region were flooded out and standing water throughout Denver snarled morning rush-hour in the state capital.
 
Barth, the Boulder County emergency management spokesman, said conditions were "extremely dangerous" and that up to four inches (10 cm) of additional rain was expected to fall in the area on Thursday before tapering off.
 
All 200 residents of Jamestown, just north of Boulder, were forced to flee overnight, while the town of Lyons, further to the north, was cut off as floodwaters washed out U.S. Route 36 linking Lyons to Boulder, county Sheriff Joe Pelle said.
 
He said Lyons had reported that its residents had no fresh running water and its sewage treatment plant had been knocked out.
 
"We're trying desperately to get to them," Pelle said.
 
At least two people died in flooding in Boulder County, one whose body was found in a collapsed building by emergency crews searching door to door for victims in and around Jamestown and another who drowned elsewhere in the county, Commander Heidi Prentup of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said.
 
The body of a third victim, a man, was found by police on flood-watch patrols in Colorado Springs, about 100 miles (160 km) to the south, officials said.
 
Pelle said it was possible that more flood-related fatalities could emerge as emergency crews reached areas cut off by high water.
 
Heavy rains also breached an earthen dam on Meadow Lake in a remote corner of Larimer County north of Boulder, releasing about 100 acre feet of water — roughly enough to cover an area the size of a football field in 100 feet (30.5 meters) of water, sheriff's spokeswoman Jennifer Hillman said.
 
Nearby homeowners were warned by telephone of possible flooding but the dam release dissipated without causing major damage and no injuries were reported, she said.
 
In Broomfield, a small town just northwest of Denver, three people were rescued from an upside-down car swept into a washed-out culvert with two other vehicles, the Boulder Emergency Management Office said.

You May Like

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid