DENVER (CBS4)- Gov. John Hickenlooper said that he is asking for an emergency declaration from President Barack Obama to help with the flooding across Colorado.
“We’ll see what the data tells us but this could easily be a 50 or 100-year flood,” said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper spoke from the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon.
“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 Hickenlooper. “We want to get something in front of President Obama as rapidly as possible.”
Hickenlooper also said that the state is activating their own emergency system.
“The State Emergency Center has been activated to a Level 3 category of alert or action 24/7. So they will be providing direct resources across the state to the counties affected by the flooding.”
“Part of the problem with us is not that we don’t have the equipment or the manpower it’s just the conditions haven’t permitted it. We couldn’t get up the valleys,” said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper gave a rundown of some of the resources already helping communities affected by the devastating flooding.
The National Guard has been dispatched to Boulder County with seven high-water rescue force packages, two Black Hawk helicopters for search and rescue, three swift-water rescue teams, search and rescue from Colorado Task Force One, two emergency field managers and a fire management officer.
In Larimer County one Black Hawk helicopter will be used for search and rescue along with two emergency field managers and a fire management officer.
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.
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.
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.
“A storm this size is going to cause severe consequences,” said Hickenlooper. “That being said there’s an awful lot of investment and work that’s been done over the last 50 years that’s significantly diminished what we’re going to have to rebuild.”
Hickenlooper said that although training has been underway for different emergencies, he believes it would have been tough to prepare for this exact scenario.
“This is completely different from the fires and yet preparation means trying to anticipate what you don’t expect. We’ve been trying to train across the state for unexpected eventualities, things that we would never expect to happen. I’m not sure that anyone laid out a scenario where Boulder County and every single county from Coal Creek to the St. Vrain got close to 8 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
“We certainly didn’t anticipate this specific thing but we have been training on all matters and possibilities. So I think if you look in each of the counties I think the response has been rapid,” said Hickenlooper. “This is one of those big storms that came and kept dumping rain.”
Hickenlooper said Colorado is lucky because we have neighboring states that are willing to help in times of disaster.
“One of the things that makes this country great is that we have neighboring states that are very supportive when we’re in situations like this,” said Hickenlooper. “It should give everyone in Colorado a sense of security that people in Nebraska, people in Wyoming, people in New Mexico, Utah, they care about our safety and will do whatever they can to help us.”