Relentless rains pounded flood-ravaged eastern Colorado for a fifth day yesterday, triggering more evacuations and warnings as rescuers tried to reach thousands of people displaced or stranded by the deluge that has been blamed for at least four deaths.

Flooding from days of unprecedented rainfall in the semi-arid region has destroyed homes and closed or washed out bridges and roads from mountain canyons from metropolitan Denver to the eastern plains.

A surge from swollen rivers and creeks has flooded downstream farming counties in northeastern Colorado, prompting the evacuation on Saturday of several towns along the South Platte River.

This is a 500 to 1,000-year flood

“This is a 500-to-1,000-year flood,” Sean Conway, a commissioner of rural Weld County, said at a news conference.

Some areas have seen more than 15 inches of rain in a span of three days, which is above average rainfall totals for an entire year, the National Weather Service said.

National Guard troops have joined local emergency crews stretched thin by the scope of the disaster to team up on search and rescue missions.

Beginning last Monday, seasonal monsoon rains stalled over a swath of Colorado’s urban corridor, extending from near the Wyoming border to Colorado Springs, some 130 miles to the south.

By Wednesday night, the saturated mountain canyons west of the population centres could no longer absorb more water, and floodwaters cascaded down into the foothills, particularly in Boulder where thousands fled the rising waters.

Four people are confirmed dead from the flooding, and a fifth victim, a 60-year-old woman, is missing and feared dead after witnesses saw her mountain home swept away by floodwaters, authorities in Larimer County said.

Among the dead were a couple who stopped their car northwest of Boulder and were swept away by flood waters. Both bodies were recovered, the man’s on Thursday and the woman’s on Friday.

Another casualty was found in a collapsed building near Jamestown, which is an evacuated enclave north of Boulder, and still another, a man in Colorado Springs, about 160 kilometres to the south, officials said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us