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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid