Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) hammered the "knuckleheads" in Congress over the federal government shutdown on Thursday, citing the devastating effects it is having on the state's flood victims who are still trying to get their lives back together.
“We just had the worst floods we’ve had in the history of the state, so we’ve had issues like 20 million gallons of raw sewage got dumped into our river systems," Hickenlooper said to ABC News' Rick Klein. "And so we’ve had flood water -- we have E. coli at high, dangerously high levels in many, many places,” said Hickenlooper. “In many ways you couldn’t have a worse time to have a shutdown. I mean it really is a tragic failing on many, many levels.”
After Colorado's historic flooding which resulted in the deaths of nine people and over $2 billion in damages, much attention was focused on spills from the state's oil and gas operations -- one of the most densely drilled regions of the U.S. -- which were inundated by floodwaters last month. But a recent report from the state health department found no evidence of oil pollutants in some of Colorado's rivers and streams. Instead, they found a tremendous amount of E. coli.
State officials from the Water Quality Control Division of the Department of Public Health estimate that about 20 million gallons of raw sewage and about 150-270 million gallons of partially treated sewage mixed with Colorado's floodwaters, The Denver Post reported.
Samples collected in 29 locations in eight rivers in the flood zone showed high levels of E. coli in Boulder Creek, the Big Thompson River watershed and the South Platte Basin all the way to the Nebraska state line, according to the state health department.
“We’re going to have some sick kids almost for sure just because of the shutdown,” he said to ABC News. “My question to the knuckleheads in Congress, you know, where is the — if you’re going to represent people, you’ve got to have a certain level of empathy.”