LYONS, Colorado (AP) — Thousands more people in the inundated Colorado city of Boulder were ordered to evacuate as a nearby creeks rose to dangerous levels amid a storm system that has been dropping rain for a week.
The late-night reports from Boulder and the village of Eldorado Springs came as rescuers struggled to reach dozens of people cut off by flooding in Colorado mountain communities, while residents in the Denver area and other areas were warned to stay off flooded streets.
The towns of Lyons, Jamestown and others in the Rocky Mountain foothills have been isolated by flooding and without power or telephone since rain hanging over the region all week intensified late Wednesday and early Thursday.
At least three people were killed and another was missing, and numerous people were forced to seek shelter.
Late Thursday night, Boulder city officials said they sent a notice to head to higher ground to about 4,000 people living along Boulder Creek, according to a report in Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper.
Boulder County spokesman James Burrus told The Associated Press that about 8,000 telephone numbers with the message to evacuate were called, but officials aren't sure how many individuals that represented.
The alert was prompted by rapidly rising creek levels caused by water backing up at the mouth of the canyon because of debris and mud coming off the mountainsides, the city Office of Emergency Management said.
"There's no way out of town. There's no way into town. So, basically, now we're just on an island," said Jason Stillman, 37, who was forced with his fiancee to evacuate their home in Lyons at about 3 a.m. after a nearby river began to overflow into the street.
President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration Thursday night, freeing federal aid and allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.
Some of the flooding was exacerbated by wildfire "burn scars" that have spawned flash floods all summer in the mountains.
One person was killed when a structure collapsed in the tiny town of Jamestown northwest of Boulder. Another man drowned in flood waters north of Boulder early Thursday and a woman who was with him was missing.
The woman was swept away after the vehicle she was riding in got stuck in water. The man died after getting out of the vehicle to help her, Commander Heidi Prentup of the Boulder Sheriff's Office said.
Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin, Steven K. Paulson, Mead Gruver and Thomas Peipert contributed to this report.