TODAY   |  September 16, 2013

Boulder police chief: We’re lucky compared to others

Police Chief Mark Beckner tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that in 35 years in Boulder, Colo., he has never seen floodwaters like the ones of the past few weeks.  Still, he says the area’s residents consider themselves fortunate compared to what people in other areas are dealing with.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bad news here in boulder is the rain is picking up again. it's still kind of a drizzle but it's heavier than when we came on the air an hour ago. that's not the news that people out here wanted. they continue to try to get helicopters into the air to get to the remote areas and find those people that are unaccounted for. as you can imagine when you look at water like you see behind me, some communities are still simply cutoff. dill listen dreyer is in one town to the northeast, it's the town of longmont, good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt. they say this area doesn't flood. what would you do if in a moment's notice you had to evacuate your home because water was rushing in? i had a chance to spend a weekend with a family that had to answer their home trying to answer that question with no time to prepare.

>> there's a river coming across the street from over there. just a good three feet high right here.

>> reporter: a river is running through jo-ann barmes neighborhood. cutting it in two.

>> this was rapid.

>> cutoff from his wife, he is shocked to hear her name on a newscast.

>> i heard garble sounds and they kept trying to get her back and they couldn't. and the boat pulled upright then and i couldn't talk. i hung up.

>> reporter: jo-ann with four kids, two dogs and a cat squeezed into a boat when rescuers arrived. they find shelter in their friend's basement checking the web to see when they can go home.

>> i can go to my house.

>> reporter: early saturday, the call joanne has been waiting for.

>> i need the checkbook, safe deposit box key.

>> reporter: the green light to go back in.

>> can you go back in?

>> we can't, our house is on the wrong side of the line.

>> but they're denied.

>> our house is not quite yet on the acceptable side of that line.

>> reporter: as night falls they watch the skies hoping to get back to their house before the next storm hits.

>> we're going to go see how close we can get to the house on foot.

>> reporter: despite a downpour sunday morning, the police say they can take their chances.

>> that's my house. that's my basement.

>> the first floor is spared but the basement is submerged and along with it, old irreplaceable family photos.

>> the big one i would like to find is my parent's wedding picture.

>> but amid the destruction, a loan crucifix unmoved by flood waters.

>> it's a good sign. it's a sign of hope.

>> now at this point, they do not know when they can get back home. they have no place to call home. it could take weeks. it could take months. but somehow, through all of this, they remain positive and upbeat, matt.

>>> all right dillon. thank you very much. not far from us here in boulder. mark is the police chief of boulder colorado. chief, good to see you. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> you say you lived here 35 years.

>> i have.

>> tell me how this compares to anything you have seen in the past.

>> i've never seen anything as devastating as the water we have seen this week. back where we are standing now was underwater a few days ago.

>> this is canyon creek . at this time of the year as i mentioned, this should be dry and yet every once in awhile even in the last 30 second wes have been standing here an extra rush of water will come by. this is what has taken out so many roads and bridges in this area.

>> yeah, this is just an example. every drainage in this region is similar to what you're seeing here. boulder creek , through the middle of downtown boulder was out of it's banks 50 feet on either side. flooding homes, apartment buildings, destroying roads. it's been incredible.

>> although the rain is picking up again, that's the bad news. the good news is some life is getting back to normal but boulder when it comes down to it is the lucky place.

>> we are lucky believe it or not. as much damage as we've had, when you look beyond the boarders of boulder they suffered worse in terms of roads washed out, homes destroyed. people without homes that have been evacuated. it's just incredible.

>> one of the local papers here urged the stranded residents that could at least get information to use mirrors and flares to signal helicopters can they get up today. i know you're lending resources to the surrounding areas as well.

>> we are. we have officers assigned to assist the county both at the airport and with road closures as well.

>> well, our thoughts again with you and the folks in boulder and boulder county and the surrounding area. thank you so much.

>> thank you.

>> we appreciate it.

>> thank you.