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Rain Hampers Colorado Rescue Efforts

Four confirmed dead, two more missing and presumed dead
Updated 6:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 15, 2013

A group of trailers are smashed together at a storage site near Greeley, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, as debris-filled rivers flooded into towns and farms miles from the Rockies. (AP Photo/John Wark)

LYONS, Colorado (AP) - The search for people stranded from the Rocky Mountain foothills to the plains of northeastern Colorado grew more difficult Sunday, with a new wave of rain hampering airlifts from the flooded areas still out of reach.

From the mountain communities east to the plains city of Fort Morgan, numerous pockets of individuals remained cut off by the flooding. With rain impacting helicopter searches, rescuers trekked by ground up dangerous canyon roads to reach some of those homes isolated since Wednesday.

More than 1,750 people and 300 pets have already been rescued from communities and individual homes swamped by overflowing rivers and streams. The surging waters have been deadly, with four people confirmed dead and two more missing and presumed dead after their homes were swept away.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
Colorado FloodsHundreds of people have still not been heard from, but with phone service being restored to some of the areas over the weekend, officials hoped that number would drop as they contacted more stranded people.

The additional rain falling on ground that has been saturated by water since Wednesday created the risk of more flash flooding and mud slides, according to the National Weather Service.

Days of rain and floods have transformed the outdoorsy mountain communities in Colorado's Rocky Mountain foothills from a paradise for backpackers and nature lovers into a disaster area with little in the way of supplies or services. Roadways have crumbled, scenic bridges are destroyed, and most shops are closed.

In Lyons, the cars that normally clog main street have been replaced by military supply trucks. Restaurateurs and grocers in Lyons were distributing food to their neighbors as others arrived in groups carrying supplies.

Chris Rodes, one of Lyon's newest residents, said the change is so drastic that he is considering moving away just two weeks after settling there.

"It's not the same," Rodes said. "All these beautiful places, it's just brown mud."

In Estes Park, some 20 miles from Lyons, hundreds of homes and cabins were empty in the town that is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. High water still covered several low-lying streets. Where the river had receded, it had left behind up to a foot of mud.

Estes Park town administrator Frank Lancaster said visitors who would normally flock there during the golden September days should stay away for at least a month, but it could take a year or longer for many of the mountain roadways to be repaired.

Meanwhile, people were still trapped, the nearby hamlet of Glen Haven has been "destroyed" and the continuing rain threatened a new round of flooding, he said.

"We are all crossing our fingers and praying" Lancaster said. Ironically, the massive Estes Ark - a three-story former toy store designed to look like Noah's Ark - was high and dry.

"I don't know if it's open anymore, but soon it's going to be our only way out," joked Carly Blankfein.

Supplies of gas and groceries had been running low until Route 7 was recently reopened. On Sunday, people were lined up at the one gas station where a tanker had arrived.

At the town's historic Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King's horror story "The Shining," clerk Renee Maher said the hotel was nearly empty. Though it sits on a hill overlooking town, the ground was so saturated that water was seeping in through the foundation, and had caused one suite's bathtub to pop out "like a keg," Maher said.

Despite the mess, some people staying in town turned out for the Stanley's nightly ghost tours.

"They said they came because they had nothing to do," Maher said.

In Boulder, often called America's fittest town, Mayor Matt Appelbaum warned people to stay out of the wide-open spaces that ring the city.

"I know that people are eager to get out there again, but it's truly unsafe." he said. "Places that I've known and loved for 30 years are gone."

Boulder remained a refuge for evacuees from the more isolated mountain towns. These refugees filled a church, a YMCA and a high school and crashed on couches around town. Meanwhile, water continued to back up in some parts of town and a water treatment plant remained down Sunday.

But the town was bouncing back. Libraries and recreation centers have reopened. Students are again spilling out of cutesy restaurants on Pearl Street, and classes at the University of Colorado are expected to resume Monday.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring state of New Mexico, another round of rain moved across the state on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. The flooding killed at least one person - a man who died after his car was submerged when his car was washed into a ravine and carried nearly a mile from the road.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dramatic Flooding in Colorado
Colorado Floods


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We can't controll the weather and planning for a rare event like this in bot predictable. This is not any kind of normal weather pattern and never has been. I feel bad for those effected and hope they all get any help they need but still, this damage could not be predicted and never will.

September 16 2013 at 9:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Gordon M Doherty

u can't trust mother nature, but u can trust Jesus with eternity.

September 16 2013 at 3:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Douglas Zoubek

These disasters are becoming more and more prevalent. We probably had natures wrath hitting the earth for centuries. Only now we are able to feel the effects because of more population and habitable places. The more square surface we inhabit, the more we notice natures fury. All we can do is try to stay a step ahead of the next storm and hope we won't be caught in the middle of it. Our sympathies surely go out to the victim's that are killed and have lost their homes in these tragic events. Mother Earth can deal out some pretty nasty hands. We can't control what nature has in store for us, but we can try to be a little more prepared to meet the challenge.

September 15 2013 at 6:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

There is a God. At least a God by the Judaeo Christian standard.
What we do with our firepower to the defenceless then seek to justify it politically
what we have done to the Arabs will visit us a hundred fold without mercy, without
fear without favour.

Our insurance premiums will go up further, our dollar will drop further,
our production will drop further, our job opportunities will be lost and our families will grieve.

Stand up against the belligerence of the Israelis (read European misfits in the middle east).
Let the place be restored to its original position and not some biblical fabled land at the expense
of the original inhabitants the Palestinians.

September 15 2013 at 5:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

You could make it across that water in a car. Just go fast.

September 15 2013 at 5:41 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

when is the government going to help us at HOME ......

September 15 2013 at 5:30 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Listen up people, these are end times. Minister Farrakhan said there would be things like this happening. People better start to pray because as god lives these are end times, God is speaking to mankind, but are we listening?

September 15 2013 at 5:30 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to moniesmh's comment

It's the end times down here in Texas.

September 15 2013 at 5:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

What an awful tradegy. So many lives lost and so much devastation! Our prayers are with all those affected by this. I wondered what if anything could have been done to prevent it. I hope the rescuers get to all of those in need. God Bless each and every one of the Rescuers for all their work.

September 15 2013 at 5:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I cannot tell you the sense of helplessness I feel watching friends and family lose everything they have sweat and toiled for their whole lives.As a native Coloradan I can only pray help arrives to them soon.I realize that the guard and first responders are working 24/7 on rescue attempts .....and I thank God for their tireless work.It seems Colorado got hit by the perfect storm....a summer where all of the undergrowth that helps to hamper flash floods was burned away......followed by what can only be described as a tropical deluge.....or monsoon.We must act together to try and thwart climate change or these occurrences will become only too common.God Bless

September 15 2013 at 5:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It's really crazy how mother nature works and takes lives with it but what can you do.

September 15 2013 at 4:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
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