BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) – The mission for emergency responders in northern Colorado Saturday: “To bring order to a chaotic situation,” as an incident commander put it.
Waters receded some in the flood-devastated areas, but the rains were expected to fall heavy once again Saturday night.
At least three people have been killed and more than 200 are unaccounted for in Boulder, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management.
“We’re assuming some of them have been stranded, we’re assuming that some made their way out and simply haven’t contact us or friends and family to get off the list, we’re assuming that there may be further loss of life or injuries,” said Sheriff Joe Pelle Friday.
According to a bulletin on the Boulder OEM website, “Emergency personnel are focusing on life safety search and rescue operations” and will be using air support throughout the day.
“It’s a sinking feeling,” Pelle said, knowing that emergency responders may not be able to reach everyone who needs help.
There was no immediate threat to drinking water in Boulder, Erie, Lafayette or Longmont, the OEM office said adding that residents should “Please limit discretionary water usage, to the extent possible.”
The nightmare is far from over as the state awaits more rainfall, threatening to send swollen rivers gushing through streets choked with debris.
It will not be as much as the 15 inches dumped in some spots this week, but it could cause more flooding in areas where water has already receded, forecasters warned.
Many people were still stranded in mountain communities west of Boulder in the Foothills. Numerous mountain roads are flooded, damaged and impassable, making rescue operations more challenging.
Sunshine Canyon is the only access route to Nederland and is open to emergency vehicles only.
About 50 people are still in Jamestown and law enforcement personnel are urging them to evacuate as it is not known when the roads will be repaired.
A plan to rescue the children at the Cal-Wood Education Center was planned for Saturday. More info on their Facebook page.
Residents got some relief Friday when rains subsided, giving a clear view of towns turned into abrupt lakes, homes and businesses inundated with muddy water and bridges devoured by raging creeks. Homes dangled off cliffs.
In Larimer County, there were 46 medical rescues on Friday, and teams continued looking for those unaccounted for on Saturday.
“We hope the worst has passed,” John Schulz of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said. “The water levels are receding, and it was a quiet night overall. We are expecting more rain tomorrow, but with the levels receding today we hope tomorrow is better.”
Hundreds of residents were evacuated Friday, including 162 people transported by air from Jamestown because roads to the city were impassible, Boulder County EMS spokesman Ben Pennymon said.
Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of the four who died in the waters. Many more people are cut off by devastated roadways, and authorities don’t know how long it will take to reach them.
Gov. John Hickenlooper warned an extensive recovery is ahead for the affected area from the state’s center into the northeast.
“This is not going to get fixed in a week,” he said. “We have lost a great deal of infrastructure.”