Search-and-rescue teams bolstered by US National Guard troops fanned out across Colorado’s flood-stricken landscape on Monday, as a week of torrential rains blamed for eight deaths and the destruction of at least 1,600 homes finally ended.
Much of the evacuation effort was focused on remote foothill and canyon communities in north-central Colorado, where the bulk of nearly 12,000 people evacuated since last week were stranded due to washed-out roads, bridges and communication lines, state emergency officials said.
In Boulder County alone, about 1,500 people had been evacuated to emergency shelters as of Sunday night and another 160 on Monday, most of them by helicopter, county emergency management office spokeswoman Liz Donaghey said.
In neighboring Larimer County, officials put the number of evacuees yet to be reached at roughly 1,000.
At the peak of the disaster — the heaviest deluge to hit the region in four decades, experts said — floodwaters roared down rain-saturated mountainsides northwest of Denver and spilled through canyons, funneling the runoff into populated areas below.
In its latest update on the disaster, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management said the official death toll had risen to eight, up from five over the weekend.
The latest count included two women, aged 60 and 80, who were reported missing and presumed dead since Sunday, after their homes were washed away by floodwaters.
Nearly 600 people remained unaccounted for in Larimer and Boulder counties combined.