Denver, CO, United States (4E) – Flood waves from overflowing rivers are threatening to overrun towns in northeastern Colorado as the death toll from the deadliest flooding in the state since 1976 rose to 8.
Residents of the small town of Crook in Logan County were already evacuated early Tuesday as the nearby Harmony Ditch rose to its highest levels due to flood wave moving down the South Platte River, which runs from south of Denver into Nebraska. The flood wave is also threatening to hit Julesburg and Sedgwick towns further north of Crook.
So far, the ditch has not been breached, according to town officials.
The nearly week-long flooding in Colorado’s Front Range killed eight people and damaged 18,000 homes. The bodies of two victims, who were swept away by floodwater, were recovered in Colorado Springs and Idaho Springs on Monday, according to local police. They add to the three deaths in Boulder County, two in El Paso County and one in Clear Creek County.
Helicopter search and rescue continued Tuesday to airlift residents stranded for days in submerged communities in Boulder and Larimer counties. Hundreds have been plucked from the two counties and transferred to safer ground on Monday.
In the town of Lyons, evacuees returned to find thick mud, uprooted homes and snapped power poles. The town was inundated when branches of the St. Vrain Creek overflowed.
An estimated 18,000 homes in the state were damaged, the Colorado office of emergency management said. Another 1,502 homes, mostly in Larimer County, were destroyed along a 200-mile stretch of the Front Range.
About 654 lane-miles of roadway, 122 bridges and 64 irrigation canals were damaged or destroyed, Weld County spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said. More than 210 miles of road in the country remained close Monday.
Flooding also affected the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Fremont, Jefferson, Morgan, Pueblo and Washington.
The flooding started on Sept. 8 due to a heavy monsoon over the Rockies that went stationary until Sunday and Monday, according to Accuweather.com meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. A similar thunderstorm over the Big Thompson River Canyon on June 14-20, 1976 caused flashfloods that killed 145 people.