BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– The University of Colorado in Boulder has cancelled classes through at least Friday after evacuating about 400 students because of dangerous flooding that has essentially shut down the city — taking homes and lives.
About 40 buildings on the CU Boulder campus have water damage. That’s about a quarter of the school’s buildings.
CU will be closed all day Thursday and Friday.
Boulder has closed its airport. There are several roads with damage including Mariposa Hawthorne and Lindon.
Up to 8 inches of rain in the last 24 hours has caused widespread flooding in the foothills and urban corridor from Denver north to Fort Collins and south to Colorado Springs.
Boulder Creek set a new flow record on Thursday evening.
“Boulder Creek at N. 75th Street is flowing at 4,500 cubic feet per second, which is a new record for this 26-year-old gage and more than double the previous record peak flow of 2,050 cubic feet per second set in 2003,” said Jim Kircher, USGS Colorado Water Science Center Director.
RTD shut down the following routes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday:
Route 204, Route Stampede, Route 206, Route 225, Route Jump and Route Dash. Route AB will run from DIA to Broomfield Park-n-Ride and back to the airport but will not be able to run into or out of Boulder.
Route B will not be able to run from Boulder, Route B will run from Market Street Station to Broomfield Park-n-Ride, Route 205 will continue to run.
Route SKIP will run from Baseline to Boulder Transit Center, RTD will stage buses at The Boulder Transit Center and will resume limited service if streets open.
“With the weather conditions continuing to be unpredictable, we’re going to exercise caution and keep the current evacuation in place,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “This will be revisited again on Friday as early as we can make a determination that the units are safe.”
“Every asset of the Department of Public Safety has been deployed,” said CU Communications Director Ryan Huff. “This is not a time to be playing. It’s a time to stay indoors.”
Roads and bridges across Boulder have washed away thanks to rushing water. Creeks are overflowing into yards and parking lots. Massive rock slides have people running for safety.
“As soon as I saw it stacking up against the sliding glass door I yelled to my wife, ‘Get the kids, we’ve got to get out of here!’ Over a foot and a half of mud and sludge that’s stacked up against the house,” said one Boulder resident.
The city has urged people to stay out of low-lying areas including downtown Boulder. Ten foot walls of debris in the canyons are holding so far but if they let go–
“If we had a surge that causes a big surge of water to come into the city we’re not going to have very much notice,” said Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley. “The reality is it’s a matter of minutes.”
Boulder Emergency Rules were enacted on Thursday. The Boulder Municipal Airport and Boulder Open Space and Parks have been closed until further notice.
There is some water damage to numerous buildings on the CU campus including Theatre, Norlin Library, and the Koelbel business building, as well as the Research Lab 2 and Research Lab 4 buildings on the east campus.
Initial assessments indicate that most of the water damage is minor, though it may take several days to dry out areas with fans.
Residence halls with flooding damage on the ground floor include a few units in Reed and Crosman Halls. Those residents have been relocated to other units within the same buildings.
CU police officers have been checking building exteriors looking for safety hazards. The CU Boulder leadership will evaluate re-opening the campus after the impact of the storm on campus infrastructure has been fully assessed.
As a precautionary measure, residents in Faculty/Staff Court, Athens Court and ground floor units in Newton Court were evacuated Wednesday evening.
The evacuations affected 234 units, displacing approximately 400 to 500 CU graduate students, faculty, staff and their families. It is not yet known when residents will be able to return to the complex.
At this time there is only one report of an injury. On Wednesday night, a woman broke her ankle while playing “slip and slide” on Farrand Field.
“I want to assure parents and others that we have not had any reports of missing students or serious injuries,” said Louise Vale, Vice Chancellor for Administration. “The majority of our campus is well above the flood plain and is not at risk of flash flooding. We want to make sure the buildings are safe before we open them.”
Kelly Fano has lived in Boulder for more than 30 years. Friday morning she woke up to find feet of water standing in her basement.
“We’re not near a creek. The ground is saturated and it’s coming up through the floor,” said Fano.
The Red Cross opened shelters in Boulder at the YMCA of Boulder Valley, 2850 Mapleton Ave. and at the Erie Community Center, 450 Powers Street in Erie.
All events on Thursday have been cancelled and many will be cancelled Friday as well, including the Pearl Street Stampede.
Ralphie’s Corral prior to the Saturday football game has also been cancelled. However, the football game against Fresno State will be played as scheduled with a kickoff at 12:07 p.m.
The grass lots on campus are expected to be closed, which will cause fans with permits in those lots to relocate to their secondary lots.