Flooding in Boulder, Colorado, has left more hundreds of people missing and unaccounted for as water levels remain dangerously high.
The flooding that came after days of heavy rain has overrun many parts of the city and forced thousands of people to evacuate. Officials were still struggling to grasp the scale of the flooding, with the exact number of homes destroyed and people missing remaining unknown.
The flooding is the worst in Boulder County, where many people live in mountainous areas.
“Most of them have been residences on the sides of mountains that have collapsed or been impacted by mudslides and their foundations washed away,” Boulder County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heidi Prentus said.
Many of those evacuated have not been able to return, and officials have warned others to stay away from the city.
“We are asking people to avoid driving in Boulder, avoid being in areas where water is rising or where creeks are crossing intersections or streets. If you should happen to fall in those waters it would be very difficult to get out and in some cases you might not be able to get out,” Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said. “We are asking people not to come to Boulder unless absolutely necessary because if you get here you might not be able to get out.”
Numerous motorists have already become stranded in their cars by the rising flood water, and offiicials have advised against driving in standing water.
President Obama has already approved federal disaster relief funds for Boulder, El Paso, and Larimer Counties. The approval allows FEMA to aid in recovery efforts.
Three people have died in the Boulder flooding, including one in a structure collapse and another who was swept away. Officials have not said if they believe any of the missing people are dead as well, or if some of the people on the list may have been reported more than once.