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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flash Floods Wreak Havoc In Colorado

A man walks past dangerously high Boulder Creek following overnight flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Sept 12, 2013. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

A man walks past dangerously high Boulder Creek following overnight flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Sept 12, 2013. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

Flash flooding, mudslides and rock slides are continuing in northeastern Colorado today, brought on by heavy rains.

At three deaths have been reported, at least one dam has failed and the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been closed.

The rain is not expected to stop for the next few days.

Guest

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

This is HERE AND NOW.

And that is the sound of a raging South Platte River in Colorado. The northeastern part of the state has been besieged by flash flooding, mud and rock slides, all brought on by heavy rains. At least three deaths have been reported. At least one dam has failed. The University of Colorado Boulder has been closed. And the rain is not expected to stop for the next few days. Joining us now is Nathan Heffel, reporter for KUNC. He's in Greeley, Colorado. And Nathan, you've been out to some of the hardest hit areas today in the state. What have you seen?

NATHAN HEFFEL, BYLINE: I was at the University of Colorado Boulder early this morning and it was definitely a scene. Boulder Creek runs right through the university. And typically there are bike paths on either sides of the creek; they were fully flooded this morning, and large logs had been pushed downstream onto the bike paths as well as uprooted trees by the force of the water through Boulder Creek. And that's just one of the many rivers that have flooded because of the heavy rains we're seeing in Colorado.

CHAKRABARTI: It sounds so dramatic. What's the forecast? How much more rain is expected?

HEFFEL: We've seen anywhere from six to eight inches of rain over the past 48 hours or more, and they're expecting, you know, a good two to three to four inches more before this is all said and done. Forecasters say we're not going to be out of this rain until maybe Friday or even Saturday at the earliest.

CHAKRABARTI: Wow. OK. So what does that mean for people already in flood-hit areas?

HEFFEL: Well, officials say this could be a long-term event, not just for today or tomorrow. Hundreds, if not thousands, have been evacuated from areas across Northern Colorado. And right now it's kind of a wait and see as flood waters continue to crest and things like that on rivers in the area. It's kind of an unknown what's going to happen from there.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, Nathan, I'm wondering, some of the mudslides seem to have been around the Fourmile Canyon area. Now, that's a place in Colorado that had a huge wildfire back in 2010. Are things - have things been made worse because of the loss of all the vegetation due to that fire?

HEFFEL: Yeah. And that's a big concern. Since the fire took out all of the vegetation, there's nothing to absorb the water. And so when it rains even light rain, not heavy rains like we're seeing, mudflows and water flows rush down into canyons and hillsides, taking trees and rocks and anything in its path. And that's a big concern, not just in the Fourmile Canyon area, but the High Park fire area here in Northern Colorado as well.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, Nathan Heffel, reporter for KUNC reporting to us from Greeley Colorado about all the floods hitting the state there today. Nathan, thank you so much.

HEFFEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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