A dramatic air-lift rescue of 85 camping 5th-graders, 5 confirmed deaths, a broken oil pipeline with more at risk, flooded fracking sites, and it's still raining in Colorado.
September 16, 2013

H/T Miss Kitty, and TexasSharon at Bluedaze.

Boulder County activists are concerned -- and rightly so -- with flooded oil and gas wells in northeast Boulder County, and southwest Weld County in Colorado.

Residents in Colorado no doubt barely had a chance to catch their breath between the extreme drought conditions, and the torrential rains that led to devastating flash-flooding in many areas.

Further complicating evacuations and rescue efforts, as well as eventual recovery work; An uncooperative Mother Nature, broken oil and gas industry pipeline, wells, fracking and operating oil and gas facilities.

The Denver Post reported on Saturday:

"Oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen river flowing northeast. County officials did not give locations of where the pipeline broke and where other pipelines were compromised.

While the water levels in the South Platte appear to be receding slightly, bridges over the South Platte have been closed as water overflowed the bridges at least as far east as Morgan County.

Oil and gas industry crews have been monitoring wells drilled into the flood plain east of Greeley in Weld County.

One pipeline has broken and is leaking, Weld County Emergency Manager Roy Rudisill. Other industry pipelines are sagging as saturated sediment erodes around the expanding river.

Industry crews "are shutting in the lines, shutting in the wells," Rudisill said.

In a statement, Gary Wockner, of Clean Water Action, said "Fracking and operating oil and gas facilities in floodplains is extremely risky. Flood waters can topple facilities and spread oil, gas, and cancer-causing fracking chemicals across vast landscapes making contamination and clean-up efforts exponentially worse and more complicated."

Indeed, why is there such a heavy presence of the fracking, oil and gas industries in a floodplain? It's as if there was no forethought at all to the potential complications of flash-flooding.

This is footage of the flooding that occurred in Longmont, CO, and was recorded the morning of the 13th around 9am. During the aerial surveillance it's noted that a sewage treatment plant is completely flooded in the town.

An estimated 1,254 people are still unaccounted for in Colorado’s devastating floods, with at least four more inches of rain in the already-soaked Boulder expected Sunday. Five deaths have been blamed on the flooding, with a sixth person presumed dead. Among the dead were a man and woman, both 19, who were swept away while leaving their car. In fact, a helicopter surveillance mission carrying Gov. John Hickenslooper and others was forced to divert twice to rescue people waving below for help. The damage of the floods is expected to cost an estimated $150 million in Boulder alone. Meanwhile, New Mexico was also hit by heavy rains, with at least one death blamed on flash floods. Officials estimate that 1,500 homes have been destroyed and about 17,500 damaged so far.

Associated Press video: Fifth-graders air-lifted from Colorado flood zone.

More than 85 fifth-graders from Louisville, Colorado were flown to safety by the 4th Aviation Division Saturday. They had been trapped by rising flood waters plaguing the state.

They were attending an outdoor education program at the Cal-Wood Education Center in Jamestown when the town was cut off by floodwaters. To help keep nervous families informed, the center’s Facebook page posted regular updates on how the children were doing.

Denver’s Channel 7, the ABC News affiliate, posted a video on YouTube with interviews of people rescued in Lyons on Friday by the National Guard.

Unable to keep up with the traffic to their news site, the Estes Park News Inc. used its Facebook page to keep residents informed with updates and images and videos sent in by residents, including this YouTube video.

In Jamestown, residents watched as "one by one, houses cracking off and going into the creek," said Colleen Williams, chief EMS officer with the Jamestown Fire Department. "But everyone was accounted for — that was the best thing."


"There were almost 300 of them until Friday, when military helicopters evacuated all but about 20 from this mountain town northwest of Boulder.

Jamestown lost one person, 72-year-old Joey Howlett, a beloved town fixture who was crushed inside his house by a mudslide Thursday morning."

With floodwaters, mud and debris filling Boulder County sewer pipelines, citizens began reporting water or sewage backing up into homes. In those cases, people are being asked to evacuate because it's a health issue.

Credit: East Boulder County United

You can see more photos HERE. Another tank overturned and a fracking chemical warehouse that was flooded.

Search for open shelters throughout Colorado through text messaging. Text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362. (Example SHELTER 80025)

President Obama Declares Disaster for Colorado

The FEMA toll-free number 800-621-3362, will operate from 7am-10pm MT, 7 days a week until further notice to assist residents.

Individuals in Boulder County can apply for FEMA assistance at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.

Much more emergency information available here.

And if you're searching for someone in Colorado, try SafeandWell from the Red Cross.

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