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Disastrous Flooding Causes Heavy Damage, Forces Evacuations, 3 Dead

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Flooding has caused heavy damage in parts of three Front Range counties and in Boulder County a state of emergency has been declared. Some evacuations have been ordered and emergency crews are unable to reach residents in some towns.

Over 6 inches of rain fell overnight in parts of Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties, CBS4’s Lauren Whitney reported. Officials advise that if you are anywhere near a place where there are floodwaters rising you should evacuate immediately.

Boulder has closed its airport. There are several roads with damage including Mariposa Hawthorne and Lindon.

There are no immediate concerns about drinking water as long as that water is clear. If there is some discoloration in the water let it run for 20-25 minutes. If the discoloration continues then don’t drink the water and call Boulder Emergency Management for advice.

“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 Gov. John Hickenlooper at a news conference from the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

“We want to get something in front of President Obama as rapidly as possible.”

RELATED: Gov. Hickenlooper Asks For Emergency Declaration From President

Thursday afternoon the Colorado Department of Transportation closed the eastbound ramps at Interstate 70 and Quebec because of flooding.

Damage at I-70 and Quebec (credit: CBS)

Damage at I-70 and Quebec (credit: CBS)

The right two lanes of eastbound I-70 are blocked at I-270 because of flooding.

Police in Denver confirmed Central Park Blvd. is closed from I-70 to 46th Ave. Northfield Blvd. is closed from Quebec to Central Park Blvd. due to road conditions.

Road conditions have also closed 56th Ave. from Quebec St. to Havana St.

Police said voluntary evacuations from 11th Ave. to 14th Ave. and Wabash to Yosemite are in place.

Parents at five Denver schools are being asked to pick students up at the school or bus stop because of the severe weather and unsafe flooding conditions near some DPS schools.

Those schools are Ashley Elementary, Denver Language School, Lowry Elementary
Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment and Odyssey Charter.

These schools will not be releasing students from school or the bus stop without a parent or guardian present.

The foothills west of Boulder are in particularly bad shape. There are reports of 10 foot debris walls with 6 to 8 feet of water behind them.

“This is not your ordinary day. It is not your ordinary disaster,” Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. “We’ve lost roads, we’ve lost bridges, we’ve lost homes, cars. And we’re only just now assessing the damage.”

There have been three reported deaths due to flooding, which started late Wednesday and continued Thursday morning. One person drowned in North Boulder on the 200 block of Linden and one was killed in Jamestown west of Boulder.

Another person was found dead in Fountain Creek near downtown Colorado Springs. He has been identified as Danny Davis, 54.

Mountain View Fire Rescue crews carry a child during evacuations from rising floodwaters in Erie. (credit: Mountain View Fire Rescue)

Mountain View Fire Rescue crews carry a child during evacuations from rising floodwaters in Erie. (credit: Mountain View Fire Rescue)

Approximately 40 buildings on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder have water damage, that’s 25 percent of the buildings on campus. CU’s campus will be closed both Thursday and Friday. The City of Boulder has closed all facilities and buildings except for emergency operations on Friday.

“Every asset of the Department of Public Safety has been deployed,” said Ryan Huff, CU’s communications director. “This is not a time to be playing. It’s a time to stay indoors.”

All of the Big Thompson Canyon west of the Dam Store (just west of Loveland) is under evacuation order. Other towns and neighborhoods on the Front Range are also under evacuation orders:

- Jamestown
– Commerce City – Fairfax Park, also area north of East 64th Avenue, west of Holly Street and east of State Highway 2
– Longmont – Southmoor Park, also businesses in Harvest Junction shopping area
– Erie – some homes north of Kenosha Farm neighborhood

Larimer County officials say that because Highway 34 is closed between Loveland and Estes Park, that cuts off the town of Drake. They are asking for the state’s help in airlifting residents who are there out of the area.

Officials with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department are advising drivers to stay off all roads in the county because of safety concerns.

LINK: Boulder County Emergency Management

“This event is not over. It’s far from over. It’s continuing to build,” Pelle said Thursday morning.

North Boulder

Michael Aisner captured this photo of flooding in North Boulder.

The National Guard has been called in and employees with FEMA are responding to Boulder County.

Water quality is a concern in the town of Lyons, where roads in and out of the city are closed. The sewer system has been overwhelmed and fresh drinking water is no longer available. Officials said residents should drink only boiled water or bottled water.

CBS4 captured dramatic video after daybreak in Lafayette of rescue crews pulling a man out of an overturned vehicle that had spilled into Rock Creek when part of Dillon Road collapsed near Highway 287. (Full Story)

Rock Creek Flooding

Rock Creek flooding washes out Dillon Road. (credit: CBS)

Estes Park is currently only accessible via Trail Ridge Road. The Big Thompson River has gone beyond its banks and there is flooding down Elkhorn Avenue, which has affected some businesses and some homes. No injuries there have been reported.

More than ten different evacuation centers have been set up, some are being run by the American Red Cross and others are being operated by city and county officials:

- Boulder County: Nederland Community Center
– Boulder County: Boulder YMCA on Mapleton
– Boulder County: Pinewood Springs Fire Department
– Boulder County: Jamestown Elementary School
– Boulder County: Lyons Elementary School
– Boulder County: Mountain View Bible Fellowship on Highway 7 in Estes Park
– Commerce City: Adams City High School, 7200 Quebec Parkway
– Aurora: Salvation Army at 802 Quari Court
– Erie Community Center
– Longmont – Memorial Building at Longs Peak Avenue and Coffman Street
– Longmont – Silver Creek High School
– Allenspark Presbyterian Camp
– Weld County: Mead High School

Highway 72 is washed out in Coal Creek Canyon (credit: Jefferson County Sheriff)

Highway 72 is washed out in Coal Creek Canyon (credit: Jefferson County Sheriff)

All schools in the Boulder Valley School District, the St. Vrain School District and Adams 14 schools were closed on Thursday due to concerns about unsafe driving areas and flooding. Schools in Estes Park are also closed, and several other individual schools are also closed. (Complete School Closures Listings)

Boulder Valley School District, Adams 14, St. Vrain Schools, Longmont Schools and Coal Creek Canyon K-8 have been closed Friday. Bus service from Coal Creek Canyon to Ralston Valley High School has been cancelled.

Estes Park Schools are closed Friday.

There are many road closures in place Thursday due to the flooding, including:

- Highway 36 north of Boulder (washed out at St. Vrain River)
– Highway 7 from Lyons to Estes Park
– Highway 66 between 53rd and Lyons- Closed due to flooding
– Highway 34 from the Dam Store (west of Loveland) up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park … There is significant damage and the closure is expected to last a long time.
– Highway 72 at milepost 50.5 near Allenspark (This segment is now closed due to a mudslide.All routes into and out of Estes Park are closed.) Closed indefinitely between Highway 93 and Highway 119
– Larimer County Road 47 from Highway 36
– Broadway in North Boulder due to high water
– In Aurora: Alameda from Chambers to Sable, also ramps from Northbound I-225 to Eastbound I-70 and from Eastbound I-70 to I-225 are closed
– In Thornton: Colorado Boulevard, Riverdale Road and 128th & 144th Avenues
– Highway 14 from Ted’s Place to Stove Prairie in the Poudre Canyon
– Commerce City: Eastbound US 6 (Vasquez Boulevard) closed due to flooding at 69th

Officials warned that Boulder Creek is flowing at a dangerous level. Boulder city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said the creek is running at 1,800 cubic feet per second, which is down from a peak of 3,200 cfps Wednesday night. It normally flows at 200 cubic feet per second at this time of year.

Thousands of deliveries could not be made along the Front Range because of road closures and inaccessible addresses.

Mail delivery was nonexistent to the following:

  • Lyons                   80540
  • Estes Park           80517
  • Jamestown          80534
  • Franktown           80116
  • Allenspark           80510
  • Frederick             80530
  • Nederland           80466
  • Ward                     80481

Mail for the Coal Creek Crescent Post Office, located up Highway 72, will be held at the Golden Post Office, located at 1100 Johnson Road in Golden.

Delivery for some addresses in Boulder, Longmont, and several other communities couldn’t be made.

If conditions prevent delivery on Friday, alternate locations for mail delivery will be established. Regular delivery will resume as soon as road conditions return to be safe and passible.

Aurora officials urged people to stay home because of “severe flooding everywhere.” They wrote “APD and AFD have done numerous rescues and pulled several vehicles from water. Streets are shut down all over Aurora – we are trying to keep closures updated via Twitter, but it is becoming too numerous.”

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