ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4)– The Big Thompson River has flooded Estes Park, forcing evacuations and businesses to close.
People could get out of Estes Park but couldn’t get back in on Friday. The infrastructure in town is devastated.
“We’ve had some major infrastructure losses. We’ve all the sewer system there, most of the roads are gone and the trails are gone,” resident Frank Lancaster said.
Riverside Drive has been overtaken by the river. Many businesses have closed because of the rushing water.
Some places have lost power and more than 1,700 people have been contacted to either evacuate or they were placed on a pre-evacuation notice.
The water flooded the business district on Friday afternoon.
The Big Thompson River was overtaking homes and bridges and washing away cars along Highway 34.
Many people were trapped inside their home, unable to leave. Law enforcement officers were checking on those who had been cut off from everything.
Estes Park is known for tourism as it leads into Rocky Mountain National Park. which has been closed.
People who live in the area told CBS4 they had never seen flooding like this.
“We’ve lived here 15 years. No, we’ve never seen it this high,” said one resident.
The locals said they had never seen more than one flood gate open on the dam for Estes Lake. All the dams were opened on Thursday.
“I’ve had people who lived through the 1976 flood and they told me this is actually more water than that flood,” resident Robert Olson said. “It tends to bring people together. We’ve met neighbors who we never met before.”
The park below the lake has turned into a part of the Big Thompson River.
The Bureau of Reclamation manages the dam for Estes Lake. Thursday evening it was between 1,700 and 2,000 cfs.
Schools in Estes Park were closed on Friday.
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.