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Colorado braces for more storms after tornadoes crush homes

By DAN ELLIOTT
Associated Press

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - Residents and authorities surveyed the damage from tornadoes that crushed houses and dropped hail that piled up like snow as the threat loomed of more severe weather Friday in northern Colorado.

Twisters on Thursday night destroyed at least three homes and damaged more than two dozen others, but weather and darkness hindered people from taking a closer look at the damage.

The strong storm system also hit the Denver area, bringing hail the size of quarters and opening a sinkhole about 15 feet deep that swallowed a police SUV.

Sgt. Greg Miller said he could hear water all around him in the hole on a Sheridan street, and he crawled out a window, pulled himself up on the roof and then up to the pavement above.

"I'm glad it happened to me and to no one else," Miller told Denver news station KMGH-TV.

At least three homes were demolished Thursday in the town of Berthoud, about 40 miles north of Denver, said Lori Hodges, director of the Larimer County Office of Emergency Management.

The National Weather Service said at least two other tornadoes touched down in the afternoon near the tiny town of Simla, about 60 miles southeast of Denver. Elbert County officials said at least six homes were damaged there, one severely.

Scott Oliver, who lives in northern Boulder County, told The Daily Camera newspaper that he went to move his car because of hail when he saw the tornado touch down.

"It was probably on the ground two minutes," he said. "It was just kicking up everything. It was terrible."

Oliver said that when he saw a piece of roof go flying by, "it was clear it packed a punch.

"When the roof blew by, we knew it was serious," he said, adding that his neighbor was forced to dive beneath a tractor and then into a ditch as the tornado approached.

North in Wyoming, residents in the tiny town of Lusk were cleaning up from flooding unleashed by a freak thunderstorm. Water and electricity has been restored to most of the town's 1,500 residents after up to 6 inches of rain fell, collapsing a bridge, damaging homes and businesses, and sending about a dozen people to higher ground.

But major highways in and out of Lusk still were closed to most traffic Friday. A flash flood watch has been posted for a large area of north-central Wyoming where many rivers and streams are running high from snowmelt and rain.

_____

Associated Press writer Bob Moen contributed to this report from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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