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Deadly Flooding Forces Thousands of Evacuations in Colorado

Posted by feww on September 13, 2013

Disaster declared in flooded areas: Gov. Hickenlooper

“We’ll see what the data tells us but this could easily be a 50 or 100-year flood,” said Hickenlooper.

Disastrous flooding has caused substantial damage in parts of three Front Range counties and the governor has declared a state of emergency in Boulder County. Thousands of people have been evacuated, however, emergency crews are unable to reach residents in some towns.

Floodwaters have cut off major highways, isolated mountain towns and inundated the main campus of the University of Colorado, damaging tens of buildings, officials said.

More than 500 students and staff members were ordered evacuated.

flooding in Colo
Highway 72 is washed out in Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado. Photo credit: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

“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.”

“Part of the problem with us is not that we don’t have the equipment or the manpower it’s just the conditions haven’t permitted it. We couldn’t get up the valleys,” said Hickenlooper.

“This is completely different from the fires and yet preparation means trying to anticipate what you don’t expect. We’ve been trying to train across the state for unexpected eventualities, things that we would never expect to happen. I’m not sure that anyone laid out a scenario where Boulder County and every single county from Coal Creek to the St. Vrain got close to 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.” Hickenlooper said.

Not Your Ordinary Disaster

“This is not your ordinary disaster,” said Joe Pelle, the sheriff of Boulder County, where two of the deaths occurred. “All the preparation in the world, all the want-to in the world, can’t put people up those canyons while debris and walls of water are coming down.”

A message posted on the university’s Web site Thursday warned: “Wall of water coming down Boulder Canyon. STAY AWAY FROM BOULDER CREEK.”

Multiple Flash Flood Warnings, Flood Warnings and Flood Watches are in effect across Colorado, said National Weather Service (NWS).

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