Boulder, Col., Sheriff Joe Pelle spoke to the press Saturday morning, saying rescue workers are making some headway in reaching people stranded by the destructive flooding that has affected the region in the past few days.
“It’s a sinking feeling to know that if someone calls 9-1-1, we’re not going to be able to reach them,” Pelle said during the conference, livestreamed by NBC News. Boulder Canyon offers a narrow passage through which workers are able to pass; Sunshine Canyon Road is currently the only passage from east to west, but Pelle noted it is not an ideal route. Workers are reaching people using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and by foot in areas.
He said authorities are trying to mine all the information they can on Saturday from aide organizations and friends and families of people affected. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” he said, adding, “We’ve evacuated hundreds of people; I’m assuming we’ve made a large dent in the problem.”
“It’s our hope to touch every door knob in the next few days,” he said. Pelle reported that the number of confirmed deaths remains at three.
Approximately 50 people wanted to stay in Jamestown. The sheriff is having officers who know the people in the community to explain that rescue workers may not be able to get back to them if they choose to stay in their homes. He said no one will be forced to leave, but the people who remain may be cut off from any help and he hopes they will choose to evacuate now.
Mayor Matt Applebaum said authorities have long know the risk of disastrous flooding in Boulder and, “In many places around town, that planning paid off.”
Sarah Huntley, a spokeswoman for the city of Boulder said people in the city should go out and engage in commerce if needed, and some facilities, including the library will be open Saturday. People from outside the city, however, should not enter. She assured residents there is no threat to drinking water in Boulder or Lafayette.
Oil and gas companies are checking lines, but there is no worry at this point of water supplies being contaminated by oil or gas. One line has been confirmed as compromised, others have sagged.
The best way for people outside the area to help right now, said the officials, is to provide financial support through donations.
County Commissioner Cindy Domenico said: “It’s going to be a long haul.”