Colorado Braces For More Rain And Flooding

fromKUNC

Heavy rains continue to pound areas near Boulder. Hundreds are still waiting to return to their homes. Rescuers continued their search for people who may be stranded in cars or trapped in buildings.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The rains continue this morning, complicated rescue efforts in the areas many areas that were hit hard yesterday by flash floods. At least three people were killed in the flooding and several are missing. The rain overturned cars, caused rivers to overflow and stranded people in their homes. Last night, President Obama authorized federal emergency aid to assist in the state's response, specifically citing the counties of Boulder, El Paso and Larimer.

Grace Hood, of member station KUNC, has been reporting on the storms. She joined us from Fort Collins. Good morning.

GRACE HOOD, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Tell us about the latest flooding. How, as of this morning, is it looking there in Colorado?

HOOD: Right. Well, you know, we've seen these massive rain over huge geographical area, basically a span about 130 miles, from North in Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs, and seeing road closures, tons of bridges being lost, mudslides, power outages, lots of evacuations.

Now, Boulder is a college town and it is one of the towns that's really been hardest hit at this point - a long list of roads that have been kind of inaccessible or damaged. But I think, really, the key thing is that it's really hard for emergency personnel to get around that town.

MONTAGNE: Now, I also gather there was a dam failure.

HOOD: It was a small amount of water. But one of the interesting things is that in Larimer County, the dam that you're referring to, officials think other dams they have breached as well but they can't get in there to assess the situation.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, many people have been evacuated from their homes. They're now in shelters set up in more than half a dozen cities there in Colorado. What can you tell us about those efforts?

HOOD: We don't have a firm number of exactly how many people have been evacuated. We know we're talking in the thousands. We saw evacuations in a couple of canyons in Northern Colorado during the day yesterday, and last night, we saw thousands more ordered in Boulder County, which is just outside of Denver.

I talked to one resident. Her name is Sharon Riggert and she was evacuated along her sister in the Big Thompson River Canyon near Loveland. And I met up with her at a Red Cross shelter. There were people milling about. And she says her sister actually lived in the same home during a 1976 flood there, and that was one of the deadliest flash floods in Colorado history.

SHARON RIGGERT: She has three areas of three steps each going up to her home. So at the last flood she was saved because of that. Disaster below, but at least her home was safe. And we are hoping that that happens again.

HOOD: Now, earlier this morning, the National Weather Service reported that water flows in that canyon had actually reached levels higher than the 1976 flood; not exactly the news that I'm sure Sharon Riggert wanted to hear.

MONTAGNE: Well, how much worse this is expected to get there in Colorado?

HOOD: Well, the biggest challenge right now is that it's so hard to reach certain places just to assess the damage. And then, of course, they need to fix damage on roads and so forth.

MONTAGNE: Well, good luck to you all up there. That's Grace Hood from member station KUNC in Fort Collins, Colorado. Thanks very much for talking with us.

HOOD: Thank you.

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