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Tens of Thousands Evacuated as Colorado Floods Worsen

Posted by feww on September 13, 2013

“biblical rainfall amounts” trigger historic  flooding along Colorado’s Front Range mountain

Flash Flood Warnings remained in effect for much of eastern and northern Colorado including the entire Denver/Boulder metropolitan area, with a population of more than 3 million.

The National Weather Service issued an urgent bulletin at 9:41am on Thursday that expressed the scale of the threat: “Major flooding/flash flooding event underway at this time with biblical rainfall amounts reported in many areas in/near the foothills.”

Boulder was pounded with more than 7 inches of rain in 24 hours, which shattered the town’s 95-year rainfall record.

“This is not an ordinary day. It is not an ordinary disaster,” said Boulder County Sheriff.

  • Cascading floodwaters from Boulder Canyon above the city forced the evacuation of more than 8,000 Boulder residences.
  • The enclave of Jamestown north of Boulder was completely evacuated.
  • Entire town of Eldorado Springs in south Boulder County were ordered to evacuate due to the threats of rising waters and mudslide.

coal creek canyon - credit Jefferson County Sheriff
Coal Creek Canyon. Photo credit: Jefferson County Sheriff. More images…

Near the town of Lyons, St. Vrain River jumped its banks, and a dam failed near Pinewood Springs, isolating the town, said a report.

In Longmont (population: ~ 88,000) about 14 miles northeast of Boulder, St. Vrain Creek again overflowed its banks, inundating the main roads and dividing the city.

  • At least  7,000 residences in Longmont were under mandatory evacuation orders.

The University of Colorado campus in Boulder was one of  the hardest hit areas. More than 500 hundred students and staff members were ordered evacuated, as devastating floodwaters damaged a quarter of the campus buildings, officials said.

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper declared a disaster for the flooded areas.

“We have declared a disaster for the flooded areas and are requesting emergency declaration from FEMA for search and rescue and emergency protection and other support,” said Hickenlooper. “We want to get something in front of President Obama as rapidly as possible.”

“The State Emergency Center has been activated to a Level 3 category of alert or action 24/7. So they will be providing direct resources across the state to the counties affected by the flooding.”

The White House signed a federal emergency declaration Thursday night.

Mudslides and rockslides have blocked parts of U.S. 6, Boulder Canyon, Colorado 14 and U.S. 287, said the Denver Post. Lefthand Canyon was reportedly blocked by multiple slides.

The disaster has claimed at least three lives, but authorities expect the toll to rise.

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