US military responds to flood ravaged Colorado

The floods that ravaged parts of Colorado are projected to have caused over $2 billion in damages from initial estimates. The Huffington Post reported that Eqecat, a catastrophe modeling firm, cited multiple fatalities and an estimated 1,500 homes destroyed and thousands more damaged in over 17 counties to support the estimate. What's worse, according to the report, most of the damages will be borne by residents because flood damage is not typical in the region and a majority of people don't have insurance. 

Colorado's Office of Emergency Management has estimated the number of damaged or destroyed homes much higher than Eqecat – about 1,882 residences and another 968 businesses. The Huffington Post reported that approximately 200 miles of state highways and roads and 50 bridges were also damaged by the floods. 

Unprecedented flooding in Colorado
A report from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, which includes scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, has found that the flooding that ravaged Colorado was unprecedented

It went on to say the flooding was likely a "100-year flood" or more accurately a 1 percent probability per year flood, reported USA Today. Many areas in the state picked up more than a foot of rain, with one location in Boulder seeing a 16.9-inch deluge. The amount of rain experienced is being attributed to the unusual and persistent weather pattern that funneled abundant moisture toward the Front Range. 

Military heads to Colorado to add support
Servicemen and women in the Colorado National Guard, the Army's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Carson, Colo., and the Wyoming National Guard worked hard to support flood evacuation operations throughout necessary areas in the state. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the state used a total of 555 troops, 20 helicopters, two ground search and rescue teams, a search-and-extraction same team, an engineering team and 53 traffic-control points to assist in evacuation and first responder efforts. 

As of 11 a.m. on September 19, the National Guard and active-duty military members had evacuated 3,465 people and 887 pets. At the same time, aerial teams had evacuated 2,758 people and over 800 pets – 22 of these by hoist. Colorado National Guardsmen had managed to pull put 707 people by ground, along with hundreds of animals. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, helicopters and crews were also working hard to transport 39 tons of cargo, which included food, water and clothing, as well as transportation and engineering supplies. 

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne, commander of Joint Task Force Centennial and director of the joint staff at the Colorado National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters, according to the press release. "Working directly with flood victims has been both heartbreaking and thoroughly rewarding for our troops, and the outpouring of love and support we've received from our neighbors has been overwhelming."

"The extraordinary training and logistics capabilities of the National Guard have been proven yet again by the rapid response to this crisis which was instrumental in saving lives," said Ari Vidali, Envisage CEO. "The value of our military as an essential partner in disaster relief around the Globe is often overlooked during heated budget debates but in my opinion, it should be a significant factor for our decision making."

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