Flash floods wash away homes, kill at least 3 near Boulder, Colo - WSMV Channel 4

UPDATE: Flash floods wash away homes, kill at least 3 near Boulder, Colorado

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Torrential rain drenched parts of Colorado, washing away homes and causing at least two deaths as officials worked Thursday to evacuate towns and keep people out of the path of the rising water.

The National Weather Service described a "life-threatening situation" in an emergency message issued just after midnight local time for several areas around Boulder, where about 6.5 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, according to the National Weather Service.

The first death was reported near Jamestown, according to officials, and was thought to be because of a building collapse. Another person was found dead on Linden Drive in Boulder, officials said. The Colorado Springs Fire Department reported a third death on Thursday morning after a body was recovered near Interstate 25.

Authorities found the second body while out patrolling in the I-25 area around 5:30 a.m. local time, Colorado Springs Fire Department spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino told NBC News affiliate KUSA.
"This is not your ordinary day, it is not your ordinary disaster," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said at a news conference late Thursday morning. "All the preparation in the world … can't put people up those canyons while those walls of water and debris are coming down."

John Schulz , Public Information Officer of the Larimer County Sheriff's office in Colo., said a series of dams overflowed and one broke overnight, killing one, and threatening hundreds more.
The sheriff described the status throughout the county as a "continuing, very dangerous situation."
The deadliest flood in Colorado history occurred in Larimer County in July of 1976, when the Big Thompson River swelled its banks, killing 144 people and causing more than $85 million in damages, according to data compiled by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

Water reached as high as first-floor windows in some parts of Boulder, a police and fire spokeswoman said. Dive teams were dispatched after cars were seen floating.

"There was one woman that was on top of a vehicle and the vehicle was actually on its side," the spokeswoman said. The rain has also caused mudslides 2 to 3 feet deep in some areas, which are impassable "even if you have an SUV," she added.

Libraries, recreation centers and other Boulder facilities were closed, according to the city's office of emergency management. Energy companies workers were trying to restore power after several flood-related outages, but expected more problems to be reported as the sun rose, according to the emergency office's website.

Officials said that they evacuated Fourmile Canyon, to the west of Boulder, and Jamestown, to the north.

The University of Colorado Boulder said on its Twitter account that its campus would be closed Thursday, until officials could assess the storm damage, and some residences were evacuated.

An earth dam in the Big Elk Meadows area collapsed, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's office, causing officials to warn people in the path of the water to be ready to make their way to higher ground if necessary. The sheriff's office said on its Twitter feed that "extrication operations" were underway and that the amount of water thought to have escaped the dam was "relatively small."

The area is thinly populated, NBC News affiliate KUSA reported.

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