As Rain Looms, Colo. Tells Residents: Leave Now

Some could face weeks without power, running water

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 15, 2013 6:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Drenched Colorado is staring down the possibility of four more inches of rain today, having already absorbed 15 inches amid devastating floods, and officials are now telling residents to get out while they can—or face weeks without power and running water. "We're not trying to force anyone from their home," says Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. "But we're trying to be very factual and definitive about the consequences of their decision, and we hope that they will come down." At least four have died in the flooding, but some 500 are unaccounted for; officials emphasize that that number includes people who just haven't been in contact with relatives, reports CNN.

"I was thinking about staying. I could have lasted at least a year," says one teacher sitting in a shelter, who tells the AP that many of his neighbors "right by the river, their houses were washed away. It's just really devastating." Adds his wife: "They said they wouldn't force you, but it was strongly encouraged," to leave. President Obama last night declared Boulder County a disaster area, which frees up federal funds; other counties may be added to the list. The AP notes that as of last night some 1,750 people had been evacuated from Boulder and Larimer County.

A road crew works on a stretch of highway washed out by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colorado near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.  Hundreds of roads in the area have been damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters that have affected parts of a 4,500-square-mile...
A road crew works on a stretch of highway washed out by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colorado near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Hundreds of roads in the area have been...   (John Wark)
Krsitin McDonald, right, dries out family photos while her husband Stanley McDonald, left, wipes his brow after their basement flooded in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents from the hardest hit...
Krsitin McDonald, right, dries out family photos while her husband Stanley McDonald, left, wipes his brow after their basement flooded in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have...   (Chris Schneider)
Brian Winn, rear left, Mitch Machmuller, rear center, Eric Machmuller, front center, and Pat Machmuller steer a boat down a street in Longmont, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.
Brian Winn, rear left, Mitch Machmuller, rear center, Eric Machmuller, front center, and Pat Machmuller steer a boat down a street in Longmont, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.   (Chris Schneider)
Kyle McDonald, 20, dumps buckets of water from the basement of his home into the street in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents from the hardest hit communities.
Kyle McDonald, 20, dumps buckets of water from the basement of his home into the street in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state....   (Chris Schneider)
People stand at the edge of a highway washed out by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colorado near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013.  Hundreds of roads in the area have been damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters that have affected parts of a 4,500-square-mile area....
People stand at the edge of a highway washed out by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colorado near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Hundreds of roads in the area have been damaged...   (John Wark)
Eric Machmuller, front left, and Pat Machmuller, rear left, lead a boat down a residential street to help residents gather pets and belongings from their flooded homes in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have...
Eric Machmuller, front left, and Pat Machmuller, rear left, lead a boat down a residential street to help residents gather pets and belongings from their flooded homes in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday,...   (Chris Schneider)
Eric Machmuller, front left, Brian Winn, rear left, Mitch Machmuller, rear right, and Pat Machmuller, front right, steer a boat down a residential street to help residents gather pets and belongings from their flooded homes in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile...
Eric Machmuller, front left, Brian Winn, rear left, Mitch Machmuller, rear right, and Pat Machmuller, front right, steer a boat down a residential street to help residents gather pets and belongings from...   (Chris Schneider)
A muddy U.S. flag stands in front of flooded homes in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents from the hardest hit communities.
A muddy U.S. flag stands in front of flooded homes in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have...   (Chris Schneider)
Kathy Bell, 58, walks through a stream running through a neighbor's yard to get possessions from her home in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents from the hardest hit communities.
Kathy Bell, 58, walks through a stream running through a neighbor's yard to get possessions from her home in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile...   (Chris Schneider)
Farm buildings stand in fields submerged  by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colo., near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. The days-long rush of water from higher ground turned parts of Colorado's expansive eastern plains into muddy swamps.
Farm buildings stand in fields submerged by flooding along the South Platte River in Weld County, Colo., near Greeley, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. The days-long rush of water from higher ground turned...   (John Wark)
A boat carrying residents back to their homes to gather pets and belongings goes past a muddy U.S. flag in a residential neighborhood in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents...
A boat carrying residents back to their homes to gather pets and belongings goes past a muddy U.S. flag in a residential neighborhood in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have...   (Chris Schneider)
A resident sits in her front door and looks at flood waters in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters have been evacuating residents from the hardest hit communities.
A resident sits in her front door and looks at flood waters in Longmont, Colo., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state. National Guard helicopters...   (Chris Schneider)
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