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Boulder Creek Flows 'Like A Freight Train Out Of Control'

Boulder Flooding
A flash flooding sign stands near where local residents look at the raging waters of Boulder Creek September 13, 2013 in Boulder, Colorado. Heavy rains for the better part of week has fueled widespread flooding and evacuations in numerous Colorado towns, with the area reportedly already having received 15 inches of rain. Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - Officials in Boulder are urging people to stay away from Boulder Creek, which is still running at dangerously high levels on Friday.

The flooding has destroyed several residences in Boulder County, officials said Friday morning. They don't have a specific number of homes that have been destroyed yet, and it's not clear so far where the worst damage is in the county.

"Most of them have been residences on the sides of mountains that have collapsed or been impacted by mudslides and their foundations washed away," Boulder County Sheriff's spokeswoman Heidi Prentus said.

Almost 3,500 people were evacuated at midnight in the city as the Emerson Gulch in Fourmile Canyon west of the city washed out and there was concern that creek would crest. Water levels did rise rapidly, and one point overnight water flowed at speeds of 5,000 cubic feet per second.

Police say people near the creek should move to higher ground. It is running approximately 6 feet higher than normal and CBS News reporter Barry Petersen described it Friday morning as "flowing like a freight train out of control."

(credit: CBS)

"We are asking people to avoid driving in Boulder, avoid being in areas where water is rising or where creeks are crossing intersections or streets. If you should happen to fall in those waters it would be very difficult to get out and in some cases you might not be able to get out," Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said. "We are asking people not to come to Boulder unless absolutely necessary because if you get here you might not be able to get out."

The evacuation area in Boulder covers the following area:

- From the mouth of Boulder Canyon east to Broadway and Marine North to Pearl

At 9th and Arapahoe in downtown Boulder early Friday morning water was quickly rushing down the road and there was debris in the road.

There are hundreds of people who are unaccounted for in Boulder County, according to officials. Relatives or friends so far have just been unable to contact them, so they aren't officially "missing" at this point. Anyone who is concerned about relatives or friends' locations is asked to call a special hotline: (303) 776-2927.

Three people have died from the flooding in Boulder County.

"The one man who died in Jamestown was the victim of a structure collapse," said Prentus. "One male on Linden Drive northwest of Boulder was swept away by the water. He was recovered."

The Jamestown man has been identified as Joey Howlett by acquaintances.

The girlfriend of the man on Linden went missing when he died and on Friday officials announced that they found her body after an extensive search that involved K-9 units.

There is no way to get in or out of Jamestown on the ground so rescuers from the Colorado National Guard flew in by air and rescued 295 people.

"The roads are flooded above and below were these people are located," Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback with the Colorado National Guard said. "Helicopters are absolutely the only way to get to them short of parachuting in and then hiking in the mountains to get the people."

At least eight homes in Jamestown were destroyed.

No schools in the Boulder Valley School District had classes on Friday and all city operations were shut down except for emergency operations. The University of Colorado campus in Boulder was also closed as school officials assessed the flooding damage to the school. (Full Story)

Many businesses are also closed in the city. Some are dealing with flooding issues and others have mud and other debris outside their offices to clean up.

City officials are advising against driving in the area unless absolutely necessary.

The Boulder Turnpike (Highway 36) was closed from the Flatirons Crossing mall area to East Boulder for most of the morning but it reopened before noon.

The Red Cross opened a shelter in Boulder at: YMCA of Boulder Valley, 2850 Mapleton Ave.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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