(Photo: Reuters/John Wark)
A fifth death was attributed to historic Colorado floods as evacuations continued Sunday morning and rescuers warned those wanting to stay behind to be prepared to remain without power, water and basic supplies for weeks. More rain is expected Sunday.
A 60-year-old woman in Cedar Cove, Larimer County was believed to be the fifth person killed in the flooding caused by rains than began Wednesday night in Colorado.
"I expect that we're going to continue to receive reports of confirmed missing and confirmed fatalities throughout the next several days," weather.com quoted Larimer County sheriff's spokesman John Schulz as saying.
At least 1,750 people and 300 pets had been evacuated from Boulder and Larimer counties by Saturday night, National Guard Lt. James Goff told USA Today.
Officials said over 500 people were still unaccounted for as of early Sunday, which means relatives and authorities had not been able to contact them.
The flooding has affected parts of a 4,500-square-mile area.
In Boulder, which bore the brunt of the disaster, the number of rescuers was doubled to around 800 on Saturday. Airlifts will continue Sunday in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties, authorities said.
When Gov. John Hickenlooper toured flooded areas in a helicopter on Saturday, he had to halt twice to rescue six stranded people and their two pets.
Up to 4 inches of rain could fall by Sunday afternoon, Boulder officials said, and advised all in affected areas to evacuate. "We're not trying to force anyone from their home," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. "We're not trying to be forceful, but we're trying to be very factual and definitive about the consequences of their decision, and we hope that they will come down."
"It looks like there is a chance of some heavy rain Sunday, and a continued risk of flash flooding. And then we finally dry out on Monday," National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina told DailyCamera.com.
"The problem now is relatively little additional rainfall may trigger additional flash flooding," weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said. "With more areas of rain and scattered thunderstorms expected this weekend, a quick inch or so of rain in less than one hour may cause additional rises on already swollen creeks and rivers."
President Barack Obama signed on Saturday night a disaster declaration, ordering federal aid for Colorado. The declaration paves the way for federal funding to be made available to affected individuals in Boulder. Other counties could be added later.
Repairs could cost about $150 million in Boulder County alone, county transportation director George Gerstle was quoted as saying.
Hickenlooper had declared a disaster emergency in 14 counties on Friday, authorizing $6 million to pay for flood response and recovery in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo, Washington and Weld, according to Denver Post.
Authorities had reported four confirmed deaths until late Friday. A couple, both 19, swept away in floodwaters after they stopped their car northwest of Boulder. In Boulder County's Jamestown, a body was found in a collapsed building. Another man drowned in Fountain Creek in Colorado Springs.