Colorado Authorities: Dangerous Flooding Event 'Far From Over'

Sheriff Joe Pelle says that the sudden overnight storm is affecting "every drainage in the county."
28:52 | 09/12/13

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Transcript for Colorado Authorities: Dangerous Flooding Event 'Far From Over'
This is a special report from ABC news. I'm Dan -- for a New York with this ABC news digital special report widespread flash flooding in Colorado. It is being blamed for at least two deaths after more than six inches of rain fell causing scenes like this throughout the northwest part of the state. One person was pulled from that scene there from that overturned vehicle that you see on the right side. And right now the sheriff of Boulder County is only a press conference on the search and rescue developments and as they announced trying to do. -- tremendous -- -- -- We've lost roads we've lost bridges. We've -- homes cars. And we are just now beginning to try to assess than the scope of the damage. We have throughout the night. Being. Frustrated in our efforts. To get to the mountains and to get up those canyons and see what's going on by enormous rock -- Washed out roads. And the inability to to get to the folks who are trying to provided him and do rescues in the mountains. For that reason what we're still in the very very early stages of even trying to assess. What we've had happened to us. We have resources from. Various search and rescue groups either here or in routes. That includes swift water rescue. The FEMA. Urban search search and rescue team. We've called in a number of resources from the -- -- -- National Guard. Including vehicles that can go through deep water in over debris. We've ordered helicopters. Which are currently grounded because of the low cloud deck and -- heavy weather. And we are amassing a large scale effort. To. Get into those mountains and those foothills and to see what we've got. Try to help people. We know that -- differences in the town -- -- they are completely isolated at this point there's no access in and out. They've lost their sewer plant they've lost their fresh water they've lost their market. People are huddled on high ground. And we are trying desperately to get to them to bring them supplies. Like water. I have four deputies currently there in the town -- -- communication with their command post. Providing -- information people who -- As far as we know say if they're not hurt we hope. Put the effort to get there is this being continually frustrated and of course we're very concerned about. The forecast of continued bad weather and heavy -- I can only confirm that I've been told. Personally about two deaths. One in or near Jamestown and the structure and one in the -- -- -- in Denton creek. As I said this was a devastating overnight storm in the dark. And I anticipate that as the day goes on we are likely to find. Other people who are the victims of the storm. But I have no way of knowing. Size or scope of that. I hope and pray that's not true but we're bracing ourselves for the worst. Did this boulder historically has had some very devastating floods the the last -- that I remember was -- 1969. Actually was alive then. That storm was that but it was in Warner -- images. The difference -- this storm is it is impacting every -- you generic sounding. From the -- -- all the way to coal creek canyon we've -- structures homes cars. In all of those drainage is and we're losing we do we just lost. A major road a few minutes ago US 36. Endorsing ring. Washed moment emerald is completely gone there's no room there anymore. And that just happened a few minutes ago -- this division is not over it is far from over it's continuing to build. What happens after the initial. Surge of brain. There's debris begins to build behind overpasses and bridges and -- -- That dams that causes water to back up what causes tremendous amounts of pressure -- than those things blowout. So even as the -- dissipates. And the danger appears to sort of pass. We continue to have bad news we continue to be informed us. Of the issues that are gonna -- -- and frustrate our efforts to -- to folks in the mountains. -- -- -- That's what you. -- depends on what part of the mountains. We were told I was told a little while ago by or -- and rich folks. That they felt confident that he could probably plow. Through sunshine canyon you get that open in the next couple of hours. That would be our first actual east west in the congress -- to -- all -- So we're hoping to see that happen -- open -- You know other -- begin to open but I'm told is that in some of those places there are nine and ten foot debris walls. With this you know sixty feet of water active behind them. So is very dangerous to certain -- into them with. You know a lot of assessment a lot of caution. -- -- Yeah. Right now our. We're we're not doing evacuations and we haven't been doing the victory we have -- -- a lot of evacuations because. It's very dangerous to put people in their cars on the road. During flash flooding. What we've been doing all night is warning people that there's flash flooding. That's gonna occur there has been occurring and they need to seek shelter in high ground. So that the difference between this and look to see if -- wildfire is. That it's we put people at greater risk often by putting them in a car on the road more people are killed in cars and flash flooding than any -- Celso. We're very cognizant of that in that's the reason we don't do. Evacuation orders and -- we have very controlled circumstances and we know which way to -- people and how they can get out. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- He had firefighters. They -- -- resident. We have had to individuals trapped. I know that there was a gentleman -- -- a -- for a long period of time. Who -- I've been told this. An ex firefighter. I don't know his status I know that we had a -- from lines fire department have there. Truck inundated in washed out and that that crews been stuck on the side of a mountain. Above -- -- them wrote for a long period of time. Were concerned about hypothermia were concerned about an injury were concerned about all those things and yet were unable. To get to folks. Through no fault of any rescue work for any rescue agencies just completely inaccessible. We hope that it as the sun comes up and maybe some of the fog breaks maybe the club -- will lift we will get helicopters in the year. We also have ordered. As I said earlier a large number of resources from the National -- guard we've ordered 73. Vehicle teams. We have a 42 person FEMA. Urban search and rescue team. Some of them are already here and starting to work. We have a number of resources -- order in addition to all the local fire districts and search and rescue groups. But this is. Not your ordinary day. That is not your ordinary disaster. And all the preparation of the world's. All the want to in the world can't put people up those canyons while those walls of water and debris you're coming down. -- -- Earlier you think the worst is behind this -- anything worse it's. No I'm not gonna. Begin to predict. What's gonna happen. You know I know the the weather service and your four forecasters have been. Working hard to do this information. It doesn't look. To reduce this -- is necessities secession in the ring. Looks like it's gonna continue. No the question always is where does -- land which way this move how slow does -- -- You know all those things what we have absolute ground saturation right now any water that comes down is gonna run off thing and go into the history images. So I think we have. Continue the continuing very dangerous situation. Probably for today and and well into tomorrow and the next day depending on. The weather in the movement of justice and storms -- Absolutely I'm telling people I would prefer that people stay home. Even here -- in the flats we have lost bridges. And holders and roadways. All the way out into the flat areas of Boulder County east to 287. Roads are impassable there traffic lights and the number of places. It's not a good due to travel it's not a good -- you risk you or your kids. Or your loved ones lives. -- safety to to go do you think it's a good day to hunker down. And the watch the news Plano school. And. State. Analysts are firmness -- -- manager's office talk about a little bit of course. -- our biggest concern Izzo is large population centers because that's where. All the folks are -- are. Priority here people so Syria when. I'm Sarah Huntley and a spokesperson for the city of boulder. To answer your question -- Boulder Creek is definitely a concern to us although as the sheriff said what's unique about this situation. Is that it's not just Boulder Creek -- focused on its creeks and waterways throughout the whole county which is eight typical type flood we're prepared for. Boulder Creek is currently running at about 18100 Q 50% -- That is down from the peak last night of 3200 so that's good news. But to put in perspective usually the -- this time -- year is running about 200 theaters so. -- -- definitely seeing a typical. Event and it and it potentially dangerous event because -- the large population center in that area. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- As her parents. Pasture. So flash floods are unique in that unlike a fire or another situation we can see smoke from a -- and give people warning. They happen very very quickly. This is also very different from types of flooding -- in the midwest -- water gradually. Rises. Some so the warnings are are going to be short if we have a problem we're doing our best to encourage people to stay tuned to weather reports. We -- -- flood sirens near the creek last night mostly so that people who are right along the creek Boulder Creek would evacuate the area leave the area on foot as the sheriff said. Driving -- flood conditions is incredibly dangerous so we ask people to move to higher ground we're mostly talking about. Running or walking quickly to higher ground if you're on foot or sheltering in place -- on -- higher level -- if -- if at all possible. Com we're not encouraging people still to go down to the -- even though the flow is a little bit better and steady at the moment that still incredibly high. We're expecting more rain and we're concerned about what's going happen throughout the day. -- -- -- -- -- I've been told that it would be a matter of minutes. That's very important point is it's very important the conditions are such that people should be. Monitoring news -- -- should be monitoring city and county social media sites the best place to get the most up to date confirmed information. Is at boulder OEM dot org slash emergency -- status. We're also getting a lot of calls into dispatch in the city and people who are reporting both emergency not emergency situations. -- absolutely appropriate if you're having an emergency we are asking people to call the call center instead he just one -- reporting -- have a question. The call center number for both city and county residents -- here of three. 413773. You could help spread -- -- at that very helpful. And we have also the risk of a flash -- it's something that we've been aware of for a longtime -- indicated we have a history of some flooding in this area. In fact city of boulder because of the population center is the number one risk for flash flood in the state Colorado. Until we've done some things -- infrastructures concerns to try to mitigate the risk I want to say right now that we -- still assessing the damage so we're not sure how much this mitigation. Has helped in this situation we won't know that -- to -- you really get out what's going on. But the some of these steps we've taken include channel improvements a lot of our creek -- -- trail system is designed. To allow water to can and travel through it when it -- high. It's one of the reasons we really warn people to stay out of underpass areas when it's raining hard there's a natural tendency to want to seek shelter under anything it's gonna cover your head right. That can be one of the most dangerous places to be in the city of boulder during this type situation because they're designed to carry flood waters. We also have. Stream gauges. And that we are monitoring very carefully in their very helpful in terms of the warning issue that you were asked about earlier because we can get a sense of what's happening through that technology. Much higher the canyon. And be able to buy -- -- some time and also -- first responders good information about what's likely to happen. -- the other thing I'd like to say is that. We have a number of private property and city properties that have taken efforts to flood -- themselves. And we're very hopeful that that's going to help mitigate some of the damage we did have a city official go through the municipal building not too long ago. And fortunately we've had a little bit of rain water coming in through window -- that sort of thing but there's not significant damage at this time. -- The library and -- on. -- -- No all city buildings are close to lead to justice center is also -- -- in the county. They will remain closed at least through today will assess the situation tomorrow once we see what storm is for the rest of today. You guys use that -- -- somebody else. Those playing waters. -- -- -- We can move -- It is one of the most frightening situations in this type of it instances where people -- -- spectators or participate in sporting activities related to the flooded. Flooding waters. We are absolutely encouraging people to stay -- from creeks this is not a time for fun enjoyment of water. This is very dangerous situation -- some of the videos you've probably seen as -- -- and where especially urging young people. -- stay inside and stay safe. Anything else. I will -- -- for the -- people do we have every fire available fire. Fire and police officer. Out on the streets right now assessing damage and continue to help people as we have throughout the night we obviously have some -- -- resting up -- were anticipating. Six it will need to come relieve them later on. For us it's really matter watching the weather and watch what happens for the rest -- -- -- this continues -- been evolving situation we appreciate your help keeping everybody updated safe -- you know. We certainly will confer and see what's appropriate for later on today. This -- sitting right we have raised -- -- urging people to stay out of the city there is. Not good enough reason to coming right -- to risk your life life loved ones and also our first responders as you mentioned we have a lot of first responders were doing their very best get to people. And the less we have to do that -- the less risk there were putting them in. Thank you. I'm Bronson Hilliard director of media relations and spokesperson for CU boulder since our last update -- -- -- earlier this morning and do some news. The university is closed today. -- -- business and academic work -- will be closed tomorrow as well that decision was made. A few moments ago by chancellor to Stefano in his cabinet. -- -- meeting on campus as we speak some of the numbers we gave you this morning have also changed. Folks we evacuated from the graduate and family housing areas these again are the housing -- room adjacent. To Boulder Creek right up next to the -- the folks we evacuated from those areas. Total about 351. We had estimated. Closer 500 earlier this morning -- it's since been able to do more accurate count we think that number right now is about 350 people again these are not. An undergraduate students -- -- graduate faculty members staff members. And graduate students. Who have either taken shelter with friends colleagues and family members. Or who we also. Have sheltering right now in adjacent. Family housing units in upper floors. They're being taken care of the students undergraduate students who were displaced. From Reid and craftsman homes on the central campus. The total -- that number remains the same thirteen students displaced from those two residence halls. The indications are right now that the water damage in -- is so severe that it could be 23 weeks before we can return those students to their specific. Rooms and those residence halls. So we will house the students in other residence -- on the campus and get him taking care -- we have our breakfast schedule. Up and running on time this morning we are having some issues with some of -- steam heat. On the campus were were trying to get those problems worked out but were able to feed all of our students we know that we've got. Provisions for our students to last for the remainder that we -- through the weekend. Some of some people -- asked about the football game this weekend with Fresno state they gain is still on as scheduled. The team is practicing today in the -- -- complex instead of in the flood area. Where they're normal practice field is. So things are proceeding at the university students are staying in their residence halls we have over 6000 students living on the campus who -- In our facilities on campus and -- life is proceeding mostly as normal we would echo everything that the sheriff. And Sarah have said about safety we're messaging -- our students stay away from areas with with collected water. Whether that water is still whether it's -- whether it's going through tunnels. Whether it looks pretty -- you wanna take a picture of it stay away from meant it could be the last picture you ever check. And -- message strongly to our students stay away. We hope that message is getting through and we need your help in sending a message -- well. We have new crews reporting this morning. Who are walking through our both our academic buildings. Those buildings -- classrooms and laboratories in them and -- faculty offices as well as a residence -- buildings to make assessments of damage. Most -- -- seeing is saturated. Basements. While a saturated ground it has -- basement flooding. Would be more accurate ways. Water that's come in from low levels that's -- sort of staying there most of it. Our -- our facilities management people feel can get pumped out. It could take a matter of days to get -- -- it would be better we -- clear whether to pump that water out. But -- most of what we're seeing his his minor damage along those lines carpets floors walls things that -- We can fix over time. Where -- -- damaged girl wherever there's a crew in there right now. There early indications I have -- that the damage was very minor in Garland and nine significant in and shouldn't harm. And Arlen is -- facility for students that aren't seen. Minister flying. There's a lot to be said about that except there was very Smart thing to do. You know us and our students -- young people they're adjusting to some of them you know -- being the Olsen enjoying your freedom for the first time. Arranged like this is it is an amazing thing but again you know it's not something it's not -- -- -- -- have to be trifle -- and that person broke her ankle. -- -- a high price for what she's doing. -- field but there are others who weren't injured that could have been. We're just as concerned about them. Think you'll. -- -- and boulder valley school district. After conversations this morning at 3 o'clock with -- sheriff colleague doctor -- Messinger the superintendent. Close all BV SD schools. And including the central administration. So all students and staff have been asked to stay home with the exception. Some senior district administrators. District's security staff and all district maintenance staff. Who are out right now assessing our 61 buildings for. Water damage and done and their ability to be. -- how serious any damage might be in and whether or not that's going to affect. School tomorrow we would ask that our parents please continue to monitor. The boulder valley school district web site for updates on the front page -- www. BZ SD dot org. I can announce that all extracurricular activities after school whether in within the boundaries of BB SD or in other districts. Including all sporting events have been canceled. 4 this evening. We will be making a decision after we assess our buildings in and speak with public safety will be making a decision about tomorrow. And posting that to the web site as well as sending email messages to all of our families and all of our staff. Where we're that the need to Jamestown elementary school and gold -- elementary school in for people who don't know. But the schools -- like here they are too small schools each one has a population of about 23 students. And they. Fortunately. Both sit on high ground in those communities so they are serving as it's my understanding you're serving as evacuation -- an aid stations. Four people not so fortunate in that area. Jamestown in gold hill. It's a vessel -- we're getting out of Boulder, Colorado -- where the sheriff's departments -- -- in a press conference about the situation dealing with that flash flooding. -- overtaken the northwest part of state there especially in boulder and north of there. -- least two deaths are being blamed for the heavy rain at least six inches that has fallen overnight. And a lot of dramatic rescues have been taking place it's just north of boulder there including some video of one man was pulled from his overturned vehicle. Miraculous how this happened he's thrown a life -- the car. Eventually flips after they tried -- it was some ropes but it flips over. And you can see that swollen creek just -- rushing through. Both sides of the vehicle and the man essentially left to the foot wells. To get any kind of air -- able to eventually make his way out its. Incredibly dramatic video wanna stay with that but in the meantime I want to bring in on the phone Liz donkey who is with the office of emergency management in -- collar in Boulder County. And it and Liz we just heard from the sheriff's they're talking about some of the responses going -- -- -- that sentiment and called and you've got 42 members coming out from there. But what is the plan for lions because I understand that that is an area that is not it's not accessible correct. At this point it not that there -- do you have plans. -- to get up there I'm actually getting a briefing right now. Meant that there are getting -- OK and at a wanna take UA NN Beijing is very briefly though I know that you said that that there is concern trying to get up in and out of there are there other areas of Colorado. That have been inaccessible. Well at this point -- the only area. What about a standby from other agencies or any other states to come in to help out. And I don't have any iPad at this point yeah. Okay they'd been there are members of -- -- that are on the way or are already on the scenes. And has a disaster declaration had been called yet by the governor or is there any talk of that. And you know I said I haven't heard anything happens at emergency operations that are that we don't know which it -- -- picture. Straightaway we were more conservative like -- states. -- And that the warning has been put out then obviously the rain hasn't -- some -- and saint and we are from the sheriff's there there is more rain expected this afternoon. So the danger level is still at at the same heightened sense of awareness that I'm assuming. All right list on the list thank you for that let you get to your briefing. And if you largest -- -- that is just one of the scenes that first responders have been having to deal with. Outside of Boulder, Colorado where six inches of rain has -- flash flooding. And as we heard from the sheriff in that press briefing what makes this storm and what makes this flooding so unique is that he's pointing out that every drainage system. In the county has been affected and that of course. Is the result of those creeks and rivers being swollen and causing a great deal of difficulty for any rescuers trying to get up into the canyon areas and some of those spots that are north of boulder. The schools have been shut down in boulder. The University of Colorado boulder campus has been shut down is well classes have been canceled for the day. And the bottom line being put up from emergency personnel is to stay off the road stay out of any kind of area and -- it is absolutely necessary because. Emergency personnel are trying to get there themselves and as they've been seen. Some float some roads have been simply washed out altogether. And we hurt in that press conference that there were people that we're trying to make their way here crossroads or prosper edges. Assuming that the water was not that deep and finding out in fact that it was a much more difficult situation and then what they had expected. We have the latest developments on the forecast and of course how first responders are handling that situation on in Colorado. On abcnews.com. And of course we'll have updates as they weren't right here. For now on Dan -- in New York with his ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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