Over 500 People Unaccounted For After Fatal Colorado Floods
Days of devastating rainfall in Colorado have left over 500 people unaccounted for as of Sunday, with experts still warning of more downpours to come.
According to officials, roughly 350 people are missing in Larimer County, and neighboring Boulder County has around 231 people on the "unaccounted for" list. But the numbers keep going up and down as people call in new requests to locate friends and family members, and others are found safe.
"The sad thing is there's nothing we can do," said Larimer County sheriff spokesman John Schulz. "It's just taking time. It's so frustrating to people because there's no information available."
"We're sure there are going to be additional homes that have been destroyed, but we won't know that for a while. I expect that we're going to continue to receive reports of confirmed missing and confirmed fatalities throughout the next several days," he added.
And the threat of more flash-flooding and heavy rain continues to loom on Sunday.
"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," said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina.
"We're going to be in for some steady rain over the next 12 hours," echoed a spokesperson for Boulder's Office of Emergency Management. But she added that it shouldn't go over 1 to 2 inches.
Locals who've been isolated in some Colorado towns by the heavy flooding have been warned against staying there, as they could soon run out of basic necessities like electricity and running water. But residents remain reluctant to go, with dozens choosing to keep watch over their homes — in spite of the fact that rescuers won't be going back for those who decide to stay.
"We're not trying to force anyone from their home. 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," the Boulder County Sheriff said.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Colorado, making federal aid available to the state. “An emergency declaration helps us to supplement what the state and local governments are doing at this time," an official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
Roughly $150 million will be needed in order to repair around 100 miles of roadway and 20 to 30 bridges in Boulder County — "10 to 15 times our annual budget," according to the county transportation director.
As of Saturday night, roughly 1,750 people (and 300 of their pets) had been evacuated from both Boulder and Larimer County.