At least one earthen dam gave way southeast of Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and water levels could rise downstream as authorities release more water to keep more dams from giving way.
A National Guard helicopter requested to help pull people from their homes hasn’t been able to take off because of fog and low cloud cover throughout the area.
Flash flood warnings were issued for multiple counties in the region, including Jamestown and the Fourmile wildfire burn area.
Flash flood emergencies were also issued downstream from the Front Range mountain areas, including Fort Lupton, Dacono, Plateville and other farming areas as debris piled up near bridges.
An evacuation center for the mountain residents has been sent up in nearby Nederland, officials said.
Meanwhile, about 400 students in a dorm at the University of Colorado in Boulder were evacuated and classes were canceled Thursday and Friday because of the flooding.
Mudslides and rockslides were reported in several areas, with parts of U.S. 6, Boulder Canyon, Colorado 14 and U.S. 287 all reporting problems and temporary blockages during the evening Lefthand Canyon was reported blocked by one of the many slides.
Boulder police dispatchers were receiving calls of flooded homes and streets and submerged cars.
I lived in this area for more than fifteen years. One of the deadliest floods ever to happen in this region occured downstream from Estes Park back in the 1970s: The Big Thompson Canyon flood of 1976.
I remember that flood vividly because I had driven down the Big Thompson from Estes just two days before the flash storm. As soon as I saw the rainfall totals on this most recent storm I worried about a similar occurrence because, as far as I know, that canyon is full of homes that were rebuilt below the flood level.
Humans are strange and stupid people.