Colorado – As parts of Boulder, Colorado continue to be overwhelmed by the massive flooding that has already taken the lives of three people, Jewish residents scramble to pump out their basements and keep their valuables on high ground.
The heavy rains, which included six inches in Boulder County over a 12 hour period according to AP reports, have been exacerbated by the intense wildfires that have caused significant damage to the area over the last two summers.
“Part of the challenge is that the burn scar left behind from the wildfires is causing flooding and mudslides,” Talia Haykin, marketing senior manager of the Allied Jewish Federations of Colorado, told VIN News. “With no trees to naturally control the water, the effects are magnified in certain areas.”
The National Weather Service reported a 20 foot wall of water north of Boulder, in Left Hand Canyon. Among the many reports of weather related incidents are three cars falling into rushing water when a culvert washed out on U.S. Highway 287 in Broomfield and two feet of standing water on U.S. Highway 6, as well as several mudslides and rockslides.
A Flash Flood Warning remained in effect for Boulder County until 1 PM MDT with heavy rain continuing in the area, warning residents to “Stay away or be swept away,” from unstable river banks and culverts.
For Brooklyn videographer Yosef Shidler, a last minute trip from Denver to Estes Park, Colorado, located 30 miles northeast of Boulder, turned into a memorable experience.
“It was raining heavily last night in Estes Park and when we woke up this morning we saw the place was completely flooded,” said Shidler. “I checked Facebook and saw a post from the Chabad shaliach at the University of Colorado that said ‘Baruch Hashem my house is ok’ and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.”
With all roads to Denver shut down, Shidler and his wife forced to detour through the Rocky Mountain National Park, getting lost and finding themselves perilously near the some of the most hardest hit areas, before being guided back to safety by a park ranger.
Approximately 400 students were evacuated from a dormitory at Boulder’s University of Colorado with all Thursday and Friday classes cancelled.
“We have a few inches of flooding in the Shul,” reported Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm of Chabad at University of Colorado who said that Chabad House’s seforim and Sefer Torah are safe. “Baruch Hashem everything is on higher ground for now and the Chabad House is on the hill so we aren’t so worried here but there are a lot of families at the bottom of the hill that have two feet of water.”
“It has been a long 24 hours here,” noted Jonathan Lev, executive director of the Boulder Jewish Community Center, which experienced some leaks in its roof and a foot of standing water in its parking lot. “Everyone here is in good spirits and people are helping each other out.”
According to Haykin, the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado has already opened up an emergency fund to assist the area’s Jewish residents with their post-flood cleanup efforts.
Phones in Boulder’s Jewish community were ringing this morning as area residents called in to check on each other.
“One of the best things about Boulder’s Jewish community is that we are a tight knit community and we all work together on a regular basis,” explained Lev. “This is just one of those times that it is clear that you have to come together. People aren’t just part of one synagogue. They are all there for each other.”