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Nightmare Colorado floods

by HALEY MILLAN Staff Writer

Record-setting rainfall fell from north of Denver to about the Wyoming state line, starting on September 9, and lasted for several days. There is damage throughout 17 counties, nearly 2,000 square miles.

Flooding in Colorado has left major negative impacts amongst the community; there have been seven confirmed deaths and at least two oil spills were triggered.

There is an estimated 2 billion dollar amount of property damage. Nearly 18,000 homes have been damaged statewide. Citizens who went back to their homes found food spoiling and mud everywhere as they tried to salvage family keepsakes. Hundreds of evacuees from the town of Lyons were given two hours under tight supervision and security to check on their homes Thursday.

Three people are missing and presumed dead, while 140 people are still unaccounted-for. Rescue operations have slowed down while the state is focused on finding homes for people who cannot go back to their homes. Thousands of people have been displaced.

The state is also focused on restoring basic services and how to repair miles of roads and dozens of bridges. More than 200 miles of state roads and 50 bridges were affected.

Senior Danielle Paxton says, “It’s really heartbreaking that the residents can’t even go back to their home after all of the destruction. Even worse, there are a few people who are still missing. I can’t imagine what those families are going through, not only losing their homes but possibly losing family members.”

Work crews worked on clearing debris and tried to restore power, water, and sewage service. Utility poles were knocked over and power lines were tangled. Hundreds of natural gas and oil wells in the state’s main petroleum-producing region were shut down, temporarily suspending a multibillion-dollar drilling frenzy.

Two oil spills were reported by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Along the St. Vrain River near Platteville, 323 barrels (13,500 gallons) were spilled. In the South Platte River near Milliken, 125 barrels (5,250) were spilled. The St. Vrain leads to the South Platte,  which flows into Nebraska and across the Colorado plains.

The floodwater swept away the oil and other contaminants through communities. The major concern at this point is the raw sewage flowing through.

Last week, a natural gas pipeline leaked when the ground around it was washed away. Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said the pipeline was shut down and the leak was contained.

“It’s so scary to think that something like rainfall can cause all of this damage. It’s so sad that people lost their homes and all of their stuff. I really hope that people are able to come back from this and that the cost of fixing everything isn’t too high,” says Senior Viki Daninska.

On September 12 alone, almost half of the 20.5 inch yearly average of rainfall was recorded at a little over nine inches of rain. The September total of rainfall is more than 17 inches. According to an analysis by the National Weather Service, the amount of rain was a once-in-a-millennium event for those areas.

Residents hope to get everything back to normal as quickly as possible.

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