FORT COLLINS - The deluge that hit Northern Colorado on Thursday will dissipate to scattered showers on Friday and Saturday, but the damage wrought by flash-flood waters to three key Larimer County highways could takes weeks, if not months, to repair.
The worst of the rain, which filled rain gauges around Larimer County with 4 to 6 inches of water in just one day, came and went by Thursday evening. Northern Colorado will have a respite until Sunday, when meteorologists expect another potential dump of heavy, flash-flood inducing rain.
But as Friday dawned, U.S. Highways 34 and 36, and Colorado Highway 14 through the Poudre Canyon, remain indefinitely closed. Colorado Department of Transportation officials have limited ideas of how much damage water, mud and rock did to those roads on Thursday. CDOT had no estimated time for reopening the roads as of Thursday night.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith could only guess if homes in the western foothills have been swept away a guess he can't confirm until flood danger ceases and his deputies can check on mountain residents severed from the Front Range by fast-flowing water.
Destroyed and flooded roads in Larimer, Weld and Boulder Counties will undoubtedly cost millions of dollars to repair, said Amy Mohr, a CDOT spokeswoman.
"We have no idea about the extent of the damage. We have seen the highways washing away in quite a few areas," Mohr said Thursday evening. "We haven't even begun to figure out how much it is going to cost."
Cost and damage estimates will have to wait until flood danger passes hopefully sometime late Friday morning. A typical highway repair process could take weeks to start, but Mohr said CDOT is grasping for any emergency funds it can find to pay for immediate repairs.
Mudslides, several inches of water and falling rocks shut down portions of the Front Range's main routes to Estes Park and the Western Slope. A swath of Colorado 14 along Stevens Gulch collapsed, and other sections were buried by debris 2 feet high and 30 yards deep, according to CDOT. Sections of U.S. 34 also collapsed, and boulders the size of cars landed on a stretch of the highway.
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