DENVER (CBS4)– President Barack Obama declared an emergency exists in Colorado. He ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to severe storms, flooding and mudslides.

The president’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

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Those relief efforts are designed to alleviate the hardships from the emergencies caused the heavy rainfall which has resulted in flooding, flash flooding, mudslides and devastation.

Heavy rains and scarring from recent wildfires sent walls of water crashing down mountainsides early Thursday in Colorado, cutting off mountain towns and causing the University of Colorado to cancel classes. At least three people are reported dead.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper had requested the emergency declaration earlier in the day on Thursday.

In a news conference from the state Capitol he said, “There are certain thresholds to make sure this is a real emergency and a real disaster.
I think when we take a look at this just from the information we have so far there is little doubt that this will be classified as an emergency.”

Doug Gore, Acting Regional Administrator of FEMA, also spoke at the news conference about how the designation can help Coloradans.

“An emergency declaration helps us to supplement what the state and local governments are doing at this time,” said Gore.

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“We’ll see what the data tells us but this could easily be a 50 or 100-year flood,” said Hickenlooper.

Longmont enacted their 500-year flood plan on Thursday along with a curfew for city limits.

“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.

With more rain forecast for Friday and again throughout the weekend the emergency declaration could help bypass some roadblocks and get help to those who need it most.

Hickenlooper said those who live in neighboring states are willing to lend a hand to help Colorado recover quickly.

“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.”

Colorado Floods: How To Help

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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.