Weld County flood devastation; Evans, Greeley, Milliken under water as South Platte River overflows

GREELEY, Colo. - Weld County has been devastated by the flood that ravaged many parts of the state, with entire neighborhoods under several feet of water.

"We're experiencing a tremendous amount of water coming off the South Platte, basically overflowing the banks on either side of the river, up to a half mile or more, especially toward Evans, east Greeley area, out towards Kersey," said Steve Reams, a spokesman with the Weld County Sheriff's Office.

AirTracker7 flew over the county, showing dozens of homes and vehicles under water. A mobile home salvage yard at 42nd Street and Highway 85, close to the river, was submerged, making the lot look like a marina.

"Those are the homes, or former homes, that are actually the most threatening to the Highway 85 bridge. We're hoping they all stay anchored and they don't end floating downstream. If any of those hit the bridge, we're going to be looking at something totally different," Reams said.

The city of Evans evacuated many parts on the east side of town, from Highway 85 to the South Platte River.

"We're in the early stages of evacuating the eastern parts of Greeley, near East 18th Street and Fern Avenue as the South Platte River starts overtaking it banks and converge with the Poudre in the area," Reams said.

A state of emergency has been declared for the county.

If there is a road in Milliken, Greeley, or Evans area it is probably closed, Reams said. Any of the roads that have to cross the South Platte are closed, including Highway 85 and Interstate 25.

"The river has found its own path through the county. In some places, it's flowing over the highway. In other places, it's just at the bridges, there's flowing water just at the top of the bridge and they've been deemed unsafe for travel," Reams said.

The river has cut the county north and south and people are isolated in those areas of the county.

Many farmers are resourceful and have gotten to high ground and helped their neighbors,  and rescuers are still trying to make their way to residents who are trapped, Reams said.

"We are making attempts to get to these individuals but it's a time-consuming process," Reams said.

Fortunately, most of the county has power and authorities are able to get information out to people, he said.

"Two days ago, nobody thought that the South Platte River will be overflowing its banks like this, so, while you could warn people, the seriousness of this didn't seem to really hit home until it actually happened," Reams said.

The height of the flood waters was expected Friday night, and officials are anxiously awaiting 'til dawn.

"We don't know if we've seen the worst of it yet. We're going to be struggling for the next couple of hours," Reams said.

He said deputies have gone on extended shifts and normally, when Weld County suffers a crisis like this, it would call for help from neighboring counties, but with this flood, everybody is struggling with resources and personnel.

Even if people were available, he's not sure how they could be used.

"We can't them across the river to get them to the areas we need," Reams said.

Weld County Commissioners held a special meeting Friday morning and unanimously passed a resolution declaring a disaster emergency in Weld County.

Access to Milliken is cut off and Johnstown is limited,  Reams said. The City of Evans sent a reverse notification call to residents between Highway 85 and the South Platte River on Friday morning warning them about possible flooding from the South Platter River.

There are no alternate routes to Highway 85 and will not likely be open for some time, Reams said.

If residents want to help, stay home, he said.

"If you don't have to drive, if you don't have to be out and about, please don't."

 

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