Rains pound flood-ravaged Colorado, woman may be fifth fatality

A destroyed house lies piled up against a tree in Jamestown, Colorado, after a flash flood destroyed much of the town. Credit: Reuters
A destroyed house lies piled up against a tree in Jamestown, Colorado, after a flash flood destroyed much of the town.
Credit: Reuters

Relentless rains pounded flood-ravaged eastern Colorado for a fifth day on Saturday, triggering more evacuations and warnings as rescuers tried to reach thousands of people displaced or stranded by the deluge that has been blamed for at least four deaths.

Flooding from days of unprecedented rainfall in the semi-arid region has destroyed homes and closed or washed out bridges and roads from mountain canyons from metropolitan Denver to the eastern plains.

A surge from swollen rivers and creeks has flooded downstream farming counties in northeastern Colorado, prompting the evacuation on Saturday of several towns along the South Platte River.

“This is a 500-to-1,000-year flood,” Sean Conway, a commissioner of rural Weld County, said at a news conference.

Some areas have seen more than 15 inches of rain in a span of three days, which is above average rainfall totals for an entire year, the National Weather Service said.

National Guard troops have joined local emergency crews stretched thin by the scope of the disaster to team up on search and rescue missions.

Beginning on Monday, seasonal monsoon rains stalled over a swath of Colorado’s urban corridor, extending from near the Wyoming border to Colorado Springs, some 130 miles to the south.

By Wednesday night, the saturated mountain canyons west of the population centers could no longer absorb more water, and floodwaters cascaded down into the foothills, particularly in Boulder where thousands fled the rising waters.

Four people are confirmed dead from the flooding, and a fifth victim, a 60-year-old woman, is missing and feared dead after witnesses saw her mountain home swept away by floodwaters, authorities in Larimer County said.

Among the dead were a couple who stopped their car northwest of Boulder and were swept away by flood waters. Both bodies were recovered, the man’s on Thursday and the woman’s on Friday.

Another casualty was found in a collapsed building near Jamestown, an evacuated enclave north of Boulder, and still another, a man in Colorado Springs, about 100 miles to the south, officials said.

MORE FATALITIES LIKELY

Nearly 250 people are unaccounted for in two flooded counties, and though many may just be out of communication, officials warned that the death toll could rise.

“Given the destruction, there is a high probability” of more fatalities, said Sheriff Joe Pelle of Boulder County, where three of the fatalities occurred.

Ashlee Herring, a spokeswoman for the Boulder Office of Emergency Management said, “All the roads on the western side of the county are lost – they’re gone.”

The Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District sent out a message warning trapped residents that rescuers were having difficulty reaching them.

“We continue to have new landslides and road collapses,” the statement said.

Rescue crews got a break when the rains let up on Friday, but by Saturday afternoon the rains returned, prompting the National Weather Service to issue flash flood warnings for canyons west of the Denver metro area.

“This event has stunned all of us,” U.S. Senator Mark Udall said after touring the devastated area by air with Governor John Hickenlooper and other members of the state’s congressional delegation on Saturday.

The elected officials’ tour was interrupted when the crew of the National Guard helicopter they were flying in dropped down to rescue seven trapped people.

One of the hardest hit areas occurred in Weld County where the swollen St. Vrain, Big Thompson and Cache La Poudre rivers empty into the South Platte River. Rescuers in boats pulled trapped residents from flooded farms and mobile home parks.

Further downstream in Morgan County, the farming communities of Weldona, Goodrich, Muir Springs and Orchard were under evacuation orders.

The size and scope of property losses were unknown, with county assessment teams not likely to begin evaluation of the damage before early next week, once the water has receded, said Micki Frost, spokeswoman for the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

The flooding was the worst in the state since 1976, when nearly 150 people died in Larimer County in a flash flood along the Big Thompson Canyon.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…