The rains have eased in Colorado and a fleet of Chinook helicopters have resumed the rescue operation fanning out across the state where eight people have lost their lives after a week of torrential rain.
At least 1,600 homes have been destroyed in the floods – the worst in the region for forty years. Over 12,000 people have already been evacuated.
Rescue teams on board the helicopters have been using loudspeakers to communicate with people cut off while many residents have been writing messages on the roofs of their houses. Others have not been so fortunate.
“You don’t know what you lose till it’s gone because we don’t know what we got in, we’re finding stuff two miles down the road,” explained Tyler Sadar.
It’s reckoned 19,000 homes have either been destroyed or damaged. In several mountain towns some houses and major roads have been washed away. Bill Marquedt saw his home disappear.
“We had a beautiful place here, my own slice of heaven, but it’s gone,” he said.
Nearly 600 people remain unaccounted for in two of the state’s counties, many of whom are stranded without phone or Internet services.
Environmental activists are concerned about potential gas and oil leaks due to the deluge. The authorities say it will be impossible to assess the overall damage until rescue efforts have been completed and the floodwaters have receded.