Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Two Dead as Flash Flooding Hits Parts of Colorado

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Two Dead as Flash Flooding Hits Parts of Colorado

Article excerpt

LYONS, Colo. --

Flash flooding in northern Colorado has left two people dead, and the widespread high waters are keeping search and rescue teams from reaching stranded residents and motorists in Boulder and nearby mountain communities as heavy rains hammered the area today.

The National Weather Service warned of an "extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation" throughout the region as the flooding forced people from their homes, canceled classes and led to mudslides and rockslides in some areas.

"Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life," the Weather Service warned in numerous bulletins that went out throughout the morning.

Boulder Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Gabrielle Boerkircher said volunteers were trying to help stranded people until emergency crews could arrive because many roads were impassable.

Ms. Boerkircher told The Associated Press one person was killed when a structure collapsed in the tiny town of Jamestown. She said no details were available.

"We're trying to get to Jamestown," Ms. Boerkircher said. "A lot of towns need assistance, and we cannot get through."

The Weather Service said county officials reported some homes in the community had collapsed, according to a report by The Denver Post.

Colorado Springs spokeswoman Kim Melchor said police conducting flood patrols found a body in the water on the city's west side this morning after warnings were issued for flooding from a wildfire burn scar west of town.

Such floods warnings have been frequent this summer in areas hit by last year's deadly Waldo Canyon Fire, which destroyed 347 homes, killed two people and burned more than 28 square miles. Areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to flash floods because the scorched soil absorbs less water.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Kleyla said a 20-foot wall of water was reported in Left Hand Canyon north of Boulder, and a firefighter radioed he was trapped in a tree. He said rescuers were trying to get through, but were blocked by debris.

The Larimer County office of emergency information said an earthen dam in the Big Elk Meadows area southeast of Estes Park gave way, and residents of Pinewood Springs and Blue Mountain were ordered to be ready to evacuate.

Residents of the Big Elk Meadows area were told by a recorded message they "should be seeking higher ground immediately."

Larimer County sheriff's spokesman John Schulz said three other dams that are in danger of being breached near Big Elk Meadow are being monitored. Residents are being warned that a big dam near Estes Park will begin releasing water to relieve the danger, causing the Big Thompson River to rise and possibly force more evacuations, he said.

Capt. John Burt of the Colorado State Patrol said damage was being reported in four counties - Boulder, Larimer and Jefferson northwest of Denver and El Paso County around Colorado Springs. …

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