Piles of wooden debris laced with flip flops, prescription pill bottles and Styrofoam cluttered Highway 34 near the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon. The scene is hidden behind Army National Guard barricades, and was shown to the media for the first time Tuesday night.
Across Colorado’s 17 flood impacted counties there are currently 12,118 people evacuated and 306 unaccounted for, the state’s Office of Emergency Management reported Tuesday night. There are 6 confirmed fatalities, and 2 missing and presumed dead in Larimer County.
The 2 persons missing and presumed dead came from Cedar Cove in the Big Thompson Canyon, where the width of the Big Thompson river has grown significantly in some places. At the edge of Riverview RV Park, a small structure had crumbled near the Big Thompson.
As the canyon narrows out near the Dam Store, Larimer County executive Officer Nick Christensen stood on Highway 34 as the river surged below. At one point the road was reduced to one lane.
“From the destruction you see here it’s clearly going to be a long recovery process to get this infrastructure back in place,” said Christensen.
So far the federal government has pledged $5 million for road and bridge repair with more on the way. Colorado Department of Transportation Officials estimate that repairs in Northern Colorado could approach $500 million.
Late Tuesday, CDOT announced plans to construct temporary roads for U.S. 34 between Loveland and Estes Park, U.S. 36 and State Highway 7 between Boulder and Estes Park. The agency is issuing a request for proposals from the contracting community and will select the teams this Friday with work beginning next week.
Raw video footage of the Big Thompson Canyon, Sept. 17 via 7News