Residents of flood-drenched Colorado are being warned to leave their homes now or “be prepared to endure weeks without electricity, running water and basic supplies,” as National Guard helicopters and convoy trucks work to help them escape from towns in the Rocky Mountain foothills.
“We’re not trying to force anyone from their homes, but we are trying to be very factual and definitive about the consequences to anyone who decides to stay put,” explained Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.
Water has been continuing to surge throughout the state and now covers an area equivalent in size to Connecticut, with another 1”-2” inches of rain expected to day, on top of the 15” already on the ground, now reaching out into the plains east of the mountains and cutting off even more communities.
In fact, seven helicopters (including 4 Blackhawks) from the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carsen were sent in to evacuate 85 fifth graders and 14 adults stranded at the Fireside Elementary School in Louisville (10 miles south of Boulder) yesterday.
To date 4 people have been confirmed dead and 500 people remain unaccounted for since the flooding began last Wednesday, although police throughout the state expect those numbers to climb as rescue operations continue.
In the meantime, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has been in touch with officials, including US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, about getting much needed Federal Assistance disaster relief funds. It has already been estimated that Boulder County (alone) will need more than $150 million just to repair 100-150 miles of roads and 20-30 bridges that have either been washed out or remain underwater. He also announced that “experts from Vermont are expected this coming week to share lessons learned about improved road-building following 2011’s Hurricane Irene.”