All day long Thursday and into the night, emergency personnel continued their struggle with massive amounts of rushing flood water and more rainfall as they tried to rescue people stranded by flash flooding in Colorado that has so far claimed three lives. Most people living in Colorado were blind-sided by the flooding when they awoke Thursday morning as they had no idea that overnight rainfall would cause so much flooding that filled canyons with water and overflowed rivers from Boulder southward to Colorado Springs.
In less than 24 hours, the torrential rainfall dumped over six inches of water on the state of Colorado, washing out roadways, causing dams to breach and killing three people. An emergency declaration for Colorado was signed by President Obama Thursday. There were scores of very dramatic rescue efforts taking place all day Thursday. However, for much of the day, rescue teams had to wait by the side of flooded roadways or for the weather to improve so that they could help stranded people by vehicle, boat and helicopter.
On Thursday evening, the National Weather Service gave people of Colorado news they didn’t want to hear which was a flash flood warning in effect “under further notice”, a rather unusual warning. The most dramatic damage thus far has come out of Boulder where the NWS said a 20-foot wall of water rushed down a canyon north of the city, causing severe flooding.
One of the deaths that took place in Boulder County was due to a person being caught inside their vehicle in deep flood water. Another death occurred when a man who tried to save a woman stranded in her car was washed swept away by flash flooding. His body was recovered but the woman remains unaccounted for. There were also bodies found in a home that collapsed in Jamestown and on a road in Colorado Springs.
The small community of Lyons near the Rocky Mountains foothills was completed isolated due to what is being described as a “Five hundred year” flood. Residents of that town were using social media to try to locate missing people and to even ask for help.
The rainfall that started pouring down in what seemed like buckets, began in earnest at around 6pm Wednesday. The rain continued pouring well into Thursday at a rate of about one inch per hour to add up to nearly 7 inches of total rain. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, the rain overflowed a nearby creek, sending massive amounts of very fast moving water onto campus. The school was closed Thursday while hundreds of students living in a housing unit near the creek were evacuated.
Storm rescue teams from across the country were being dispatched into the region to help with cleanup and recovery efforts, the early estimate is that this could be well north of a one billion dollar disaster.