The National Guard evacuated a Colorado town cut off by severe flooding today, following record rains that killed three people, washed out dams and swamped roads across the state.
The unusually intense late-summer storms hit Colorado's biggest urban centers, stretching 130 miles (210 km) along the eastern slopes of the Rockies from Fort Collins near the Wyoming border south through Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.
National Guard troops were using trucks to reach the remote town of Lyons, north of Boulder, Mike Banuelos, a spokesman for the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center.
The town of 1,600 people was virtually cut off when floodwaters washed out U.S. Route 36, and residents have been without water and power for 48 hours, he said.
“It's a pretty dangerous situation,” he said.
Officials ordered the evacuation of thousands as nearby creek water rose to dangerous levels and rescuers struggled to to reach residents in the mountain communities.
Kari Bowen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the rainfall should begin to decrease today, but intermittent showers may bring up to an inch (2.5 cm) of rain to hard-hit Boulder and Larimer counties on Friday as the bulk of the rainfall moved east.
“We're still expecting some flooding to occur, but not quite as bad as the last couple of days in terms of the amount of rain that we've been getting,” she said.
Governor John Hickenlooper said evacuations were the highest priority and advised people to stay out of debris- and sand-filled floodwaters that were “almost like liquid cement.”
“It's got to be the largest storm that I can imagine in the state's history,” he told a televised news conference.
Additional reporting by Associated Press