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Floods Kill Three, Cause Havoc In Colorado

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Near Boulder, Colo., at least three people have died after flash floods swept through the area overnight. Torrential rains stranded motorists and forced hundreds to evacuate as water, mud, and rocks roared down mountainsides that had been stripped by wildfires.

Flooding was reported from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins and Grace Hood, of member station KUNC, reports more storms are expected.

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GRACE HOOD, BYLINE: Some of the worst flooding is north of Denver. In Boulder, the constant downpour resulted in the wettest 24-hour period on record. Swollen creeks and rivers prompted many road closures in town, and the closure of the University of Colorado campus. Hundreds were evacuated near Boulder Creek due to flooding.

Heidi Prentup is with the Boulder Sheriff's Department.

HEIDI PRENTUP: We're asking everybody to stay away from water. All of the water is considered to be hazardous, at this point, whether it's from movement or from sewage that has leaked into the water.

HOOD: The first reported fatality happened when a structure collapsed in Jamestown, near Boulder. Another body was found floating in the floodwaters of north Boulder. And a third was found floating in a creek in Colorado Springs. Emergency personnel spent the morning rescuing stranded motorists from cars in the Boulder area. Officials are also concerned about flooding from the nearby St. Vrain River, which blocked roads into and out of the town of Lyons on Thursday, and caused residents to seek shelter.

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HOOD: Gary Evans evacuated his home, near the banks of the St. Vrain River in Longmont, around 3 morning.

GARY EVANS: Went out and looked at the river, which is - we're right by the river, and it was high. I don't think it's going to get us, but it's awful close.

HOOD: Officers knocked on doors overnight, to get people out. Longmont city officials say they're not taking any chances. Assistant City Manager Sandra Seader.

SANDRA SEADER: We're worried about the property, and we're worried about - you know, obviously, the lives come first.

HOOD: Both Longmont and Boulder city leaders declared a state of emergency on Thursday. Meantime, to the north, flooding prompted multiple mudslides along two major canyon roads, and the overflowing of one earthen dam. John Schulz is with the Larimer County Sheriff's office.

JOHN SCHULZ: Now, we believe it to be a relatively small amount of water, at this point. But we're still trying to assess what the impact of that is going to be.

HOOD: Rains are expected to continue - making it hard for emergency personnel to reach people, and transportation crews to clear roads.

For NPR News, I'm Grace Hood.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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