Scott: After days of intense rainfall, residents in the state of Colorado are now dealing with extreme flooding. Maggie Rulli takes a closer look.
Maggie: The deadly floods in Colorado have left thousands homeless, hundreds missing and taken the lives of others, including teenagers Wesley Quinlan and his girlfriend Wiyanna Nelson. Family and friends of the couple gathered to honor their lives at a candlelight vigil.
Emily Briggs: Wesley died a hero. And he would have jumped in the water if it were me or Nathan, or any single person here.
Maggie: Among them, Emily Briggs. She and her boyfriend, Nathan Jennings, were in the car with Wesley and Wiyanna when water and mud suddenly slammed into them. Emily says Wiyanna was the first to be swept away.
Emily: Wesley screamed her name and he dove into the water after her, and he saved her and he grabbed her and he got her up. The current was just too much. It was going 50 miles per hour. And they all just got swept away. But he did everything that he could.
Maggie: Emily was freed from the car three hours later.
Flooding has effected many counties in Colorado, forcing more than 11,000 people to evacuate their homes, demolishing bridges and buildings, and cutting off access to some communities entirely.
So, why exactly are the floods in Colorado so bad? Well, there are a few reasons. The region has been experiencing a drought for most of the past fourteen years, leading to ground that is harder and can’t absorb as much water. Then, the wildfires that hit Colorado last year burned much of the area’s vegetation – things like bushes and trees that can help slow down and trap rainfall. So, when the storm’s record-breaking rain hit Colorado last week, the water had nowhere to go.
In the Boulder area, more than half a year’s worth of rain fell in just three days. With rainfall totals between eight and ten inches each day, it was enough for weather experts to call this storm a 1 in 1,000 year event, meaning that the situation in Colorado only has a 0.1% chance of occurring in a given year.
As the rain begins to slow, rescue efforts are now underway. The National Guard has been called in and has already saved thousands. But for the thousands more still stranded, help cannot come soon enough.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.