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Death toll rises in Colorado floods

10:00 PM, Sep 16, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - The flood waters that has spread across 17 Colorado counties has claimed 8 lives, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

In a Colorado Springs creek Monday, authorities recovered the body of a man but can't say yet if the death is related to recent flooding. And in Idaho Springs, an 83-year-old man died Monday afternoon when the ground he was standing on gave way and he was swept away by Clear Creek.

Two of the eight fatalities are women missing and presumed dead.

State officials have cut nearly in half their list of people missing. The state's count fell Monday from 1,253 to just 648.

Emergency management officials had predicted the count would drop as communications were restored and people were able to check in with loved ones.

"You've got to remember, a lot of these folks lost cellphones, landlines, the Internet four to five days ago," Gov. John Hickenlooper said on NBC's "Today" show. "I am very hopeful that the vast majority of these people are safe and sound."

The state had also warned that their count was inexact, and it conflicted at times with reports from the counties hardest-hit by flooding, Larimer and Boulder.

Register at www.SafeAndWell.org to let families members know you have evacuated safely or to check on loved ones.

Days of massive flooding destroyed some 1,500 homes and damaged about 17,500, according to an initial estimate released by the Colorado OEM.

The National Guard has rescued 2,100 people - 60 from Jamestown and Big Elk Mountain Monday. The Office of Emergency Management is urging people who are cut off by flood waters and need to evacuate but have been unable to communicate by phone or other means to signal helicopters passing overhead with sheets, mirrors, flares or signal fires. 

The town of Lyons, about 20 miles from Estes Park, was almost completely abandoned. Emergency crews gave the few remaining residents, mostly wandering aimlessly on Main Street, looking for status updates from each other, a final warning to leave Sunday.

More than 11,000 people have been evacuated. There are more than 500 people in 26 shelters in the area.

Twelve additional counties have been added to Thursday's presidential emergency disaster declaration for the flooding in Boulder, El Paso and Larimer counties.

The additional counties include Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Fremont, Jefferson, Morgan, Logan, Pueblo, Washington and Weld counties.

Thirty state highway bridges have been destroyed, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Twenty have severe damage. CDOT expects that number to go up.

Damages have not been assessed on many roadways, including U.S. Highways 34, Highway 72 and Highway 36. It is expected that they will have significant damage.

FEMA
If you recently sustained loss or damage due to severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides, you may be eligible for disaster aid.

To register, call:
1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
Or register online: www.disasterassistance.gov

When you register for disaster assistance please have the following available:
• Social Security Number (including spouse)
• Private insurance information, if available
• Address and zip code of the damaged property
• Directions to the damaged home or property
• Telephone number where FEMA can reach you

Boulder County
• Current impact area: 875 square miles
• Reported Missing: 472 (approximately)
• City of Boulder continues to deliver safe drinking water

Helicopter searches and airlifts have resumed as the weather cleared and the sun shone over flood-damaged mountain towns.

Ten military helicopters took off from Boulder Municipal Airport late Monday morning after being grounded most of the morning because of rain and clouds.

Colorado National Guard Lt. James Goff says 19 helicopters are available for search-and-rescue operations.

Crews are searching for pockets of individuals still stranded from flooding that began late last week.

The Poudre Canyon has minimal damage, but remains closed to the public. Rist Canyon has some damage, but residents are not stranded and are able to get out. This area is also still closed to the public.

Buckhorn Canyon has extensive road damage and in some areas the road was washed away completely. The Crystal Mountain Community is above where the water went through, but residents in this area are stranded. Big Thompson Canyon has extensive road damage and the communities of Drake, Glen Haven and Cedar Park remain isolated with no road access at this time.

Larimer County
• Current impact area: 1,120 Square miles
• Reported Missing
• 1,000 residents remain in remote locations
• There are 2 confirmed reports of missing/presumed dead
• 300-400 people evacuated Monday, double that Tuesday

Initial estimates show approximately 1,500 residential homes in Larimer County have been destroyed with an expected number of 4,500 homes damaged. There are also estimated 200 businesses destroyed and 500 businesses with damage in Larimer County.

Some areas in Larimer County experienced a 100 year flood and other areas experienced a 1,000 year flood. It all depends on where the heaviest rain fell. Areas with more extensive damage experienced the 1,000 year flooding.

Larimer County officials are reporting 260 people missing amid massive flooding.

The sheriff's office said Monday that 213 people had been located and 32 other names on the list turned out to be duplicates.

WATCH: Massive helicopters air lift Coloradoan flood victims

More than 15 helicopters have evacuated 110 people as of Monday afternoon. They anticipate 300 to 400 total evacuees by the end of the day. Rescue crews hope to double that number Tuesday, if the weather continues to cooperate.

Weld County
• 2910 homes impacted
• 2377 agriculture parcels impacted
• 355 commercial properties impacted
• 62 industrial properties impacted
• 210 miles of road closed
• 122 bridges impacted

9 Wants to Know investigator Melissa Blasius spent Monday afternoon in Weld County and met with the state bridge engineer, Joshua Laipply.

Ten inspection crews are criss-crossing northern Colorado Monday to assess which bridges impacted by flooding are now safe to reopen.

Laipply describes their process as triage. Damages that can be repaired quickly and bridges that are on vital routes are first on the repair list. CDOT also has one portable bridge, but officials have not decided where that bridge will be placed.

Inspectors will return after the waters recede to complete a full assessment for damage repairs.

Logan County
• Xcel substation damaged
• Xcel substation damaged
• Several road closures
• Sterling sewer system overrun

The flood waters have adversely affected the Headworks pumping station for the City of Sterling's wastewater treatment facility forcing Sterling and any outlying subdivisions that are on the city sanitary sewer system to go on a "No Flush Order" and limit water usage until further notice.

This order applies to all domestic water use including showers, baths, laundry and toilet usage.

"We realize this is a huge inconvenience for the residents of Sterling but the system has been shut down and high usage could result in residential and commercial sanitary sewer back-up conditions," said Bob Owens, Logan County emergency manager. "We are working as fast as we can to address the situation but until the flood water recedes and damage can be assessed we are unable to start repair."

The Logan County Office of Emergency Management is releasing the mandatory evacuation for those areas south of Sugar Mill Road in Sterling, including the towns of Merino and Atwood. The evacuation is still in effect for the river basin north of Sugar Mill Road.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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