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Denver Storm Halts Rush Hour Traffic

Weather: Heavy rain flooded a highway construction zone, closing Interstate 25, stranding motorists.

September 14, 2002|From Associated Press

DENVER — A 30-minute torrent dropped more than an inch of rain Friday afternoon, flooding Interstate 25 with waist-deep water and backing up traffic during rush hour.

Rescue crews in life jackets pushed rafts through the flood to rescue people from stranded cars. A snow plow pushed water toward storm drains.

The interstate was closed in both directions and was not expected to reopen for hours.

Several cars were nearly submerged and at least one was adrift. Tow trucks pulled others out of the muddy waters.

Some of the flooding occurred in a construction zone where the heavily traveled highway is being widened. Embankments stripped bare for the project apparently eroded in the heavy rain.

"We've got pumps going right now," Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said.

"In any case like this, we try to get hold of as many pumps as we can to keep the highway open, but when we get such a tremendous amount of water in such a short time, there's nothing we can do to stay on top of it."

She said there were weather-related problems on other highways around the Denver metro area, but none as significant as the flooding on Interstate 25.

The National Weather Service said at least 1.2 inches of rain fell over parts of Denver in 30 minutes.

Water at least a foot deep flowed past shops on Broadway, south of the interstate. George Hawpe of Foxy's Antiques put a board across his door to keep water out.

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