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Larimer County identifies woman who went missing in flooding

Diana Brown has been identified as one of the four victims who went missing during the Poudre Canyon Floods.

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A woman who is still missing from the Poudre Canyon Flooding has been identified as 57-year-old Diana Brown, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) confirmed Wednesday.

LCSO said search operations have been suspended until further leads about Brown are received. 

 A neighbor told 9NEWS reporter Katie Eastman, all four people are family members who were inside a house in the area.  That neighbor described the missing as an older man, his kids, and his daughter-in-law. 

"He's a retired colonel with the airforce, he was base commander in Alaska for a number of years just had wonderful stories of being in the air force and being a colonel and he loved it up here," said the neighbor.

The neighbor said he knew the people that owned a house in the area and he also recognized the houses around him. 

"I saw his house going down the river and I know that I talked to him 30 minutes before the storm hit, so I'm pretty sure he was in the house," he said.

The sheriff's office first received a report about flooding in Poudre Canyon at around 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. A mudslide occurred near Black Hollow Road and sent a large amount of debris into the canyon, destroying at least five structures and damaging the roadway, LCSO said.

Emergency crews were in the canyon and alerted residents and visitors to the approaching danger. 

The sheriff's office first confirmed two adult men were missing as a result of the flash flooding. By Wednesday evening, deputies identified a third person, another woman, who was also missing. Larimer County has not yet identified any of the people missing and said the identity of the deceased woman would come from the coroner.

LCSO public information officer David Moore said finding the missing individuals was the top priority.

On Wednesday, divers were also set to focus their efforts on attempting to recover the woman's body as well as a van in the river.

"There’s a vehicle in the water that we need to recover to make sure that there’s no one inside and then also the Larimer County Damage Assessment Team will also be out there to start doing those damage assessments for the structures that we do know that have damage," Moore said.

The Larimer County Dive team is part of that effort. They're searching by foot and using drones and dogs to check debris piles along the river.

Thursday, crews showed up shortly after sunrise to begin search, rescue, and clean-up efforts. The van was pulled from the river as the search continued for the three who are missing. 

Excavators and other equipment were brought in Thursday morning to assist with the removal of debris.

“A lot of people on the scene today trying to not only help with the search but also work on the debris and the cleanup," Moore said. 

Along the shoulder of the river, some homes appear to be spared. Others appear to be wiped off of their foundation. 

"I personally witnessed significant debris and damage in the area, caused by downed trees, damaged and destroyed homes and mudflow in the area," LCSO Sheriff Justin Smith said.

As a result of that debris, they've enacted a full closure of the river Fish Hatchery to the mouth of the canyon. Violations of these restrictions are a Class 2 Petty Offense under state law. 

"Probably through the weekend for everyone’s safety so no types of water craft whatsoever would be allowed on the river, I mean there’s so much debris, we don’t know what’s gonna happen if that debris starts to move," Moore said.

Under the direction of Larimer County Emergency Management, engineering crews will be assessing the structural integrity of bridges below the slide area due to the tremendous amount of debris that has been washed into the river.

“It’s a lot. I climbed over a bunch of it yesterday and went a little further back it’s mind-blowing. A picture doesn’t capture it," Moore said,

The first mandatory evacuations from the sheriff's office were issued at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, alerting residents of immediate and imminent danger and encouraging residents to leave the area and quickly as possible.

The mandatory evacuations in the canyon were then lifted late Tuesday night, allowing residents to return to the area. Additional, mandatory evacuations were lifted from Highway 14 to Rustic Thursday evening. But with more rain in the forecast, Moore said people should not wait for an order to leave if they feel unsafe. 

"If they have any fears whatsoever, this would be the time to go ahead and leave or seek higher ground, they don’t necessarily have to wait until they get an emergency notification from us or anything like that. If they feel they’re in danger, they absolutely need to take action," Moore said.

RELATED: Mandatory evacuations lifted in Larimer County due to flash flooding

RELATED: I-70 closes at Glenwood Canyon due to flash flooding for the 8th time this summer



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