LYONS, Colo. (AP) — As water recedes and flows east onto the Colorado plains — revealing toppled homes, buckled highways and fields of tangled debris — rescuers are shifting their focus from emergency airlifts to trying to find the hundreds of people still unaccounted for after last week's devastating flooding.
Federal and state emergency officials, taking advantage of sunny skies, said more than 3,000 people have been evacuated by air and ground, but calls for those emergency rescues have decreased.
"They've kind of transitioned from that initial response to going into more of a grid search," Colorado National Guard Lt. Skye Robinson said.
In one of those searches Tuesday, Sgt. 1st Class Keith Bart and Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja leaned out the window of a Blackhawk helicopter, giving the thumbs-up sign to people on the ground while flying outside of hard-hit Jamestown.
Most waved back and continued shoveling debris. But then Bart spotted two women waving red scarves, and the helicopter descended.
Pantoja attached his harness to the helicopter's winch and was lowered to the ground. He clipped the women in, and they laughed as they were hoisted into the Blackhawk.
After dropping off the women at the Boulder airport, the Blackhawk was back in the air less than a minute later to resume the search.
The state's latest count has dropped to about 580 people missing, and the number continues to decrease as the stranded get in touch with families.
One of the missing is Gerald Boland, a retired math teacher and basketball coach who lives in the damaged town of Lyons. Boland's neighbors, all of whom defied a mandatory evacuation order, said Boland took his wife to safety Thursday then tried to return home.
Two search teams went looking for him Monday.
"He was very sensible. I find it amazing that he would do something that would put himself in harm's way," said neighbor Mike Lennard. "But you just never know under these circumstances."
State officials reported six flood-related deaths, plus two women missing and presumed dead. The number was expected to increase. It could take weeks or even months to search through flooded areas looking for bodies.
With the airlifts tapering, state and local transportation officials are tallying the washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and twisted railroad lines. The rebuilding effort will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take months, if not years.
Initial assessments have begun trickling in, but many areas remain inaccessible and the continuing emergency prevents a thorough understanding of the devastation's scope.
Northern Colorado's broad agricultural expanses are especially affected, with more than 400 lane-miles of state highway and more than 30 bridges destroyed or impassable.
A Colorado Department of Transportation helicopter crew has been surveying damage, said department spokesman Ashley Mohr.
County officials have started their own damage tallies: 654 miles of roads in Weld County bordering Wyoming, 150 miles of roads in the Boulder County roads foothills, along with hundreds of bridges, culverts and canals.
Dale Miller, road and bridge director for Larimer County, said it could compare to the damage wrought by a 1976 flood that killed 144 people. It took two years to rebuild after that disaster.
State officials have put initial estimates at more than 19,000 homes damaged or destroyed throughout the flooded areas.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say flooding has claimed a life in New Mexico.
State police say the body of a man was found yesterday in a partially submerged vehicle in Ash Canyon, about 150 miles from Albuquerque.
The death is the first related to massive flooding in New Mexico following record rains last week.
Gov. Susana Martinez issued a state of emergency on Friday to open up recovery funding for local communities hit hard by the flooding.
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say heavy rains have caused flash flooding in Boulder County that has closed streets, prompted evacuations, and left one person dead.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for Boulder County and northwest Jefferson County, while a mandatory evacuation was in effect for the tiny community of Jamestown and the Fourmile area.
The Denver Post reports that the National Weather Service said that county officials reported some homes had collapsed in the Jamestown area.
Boulder Emergency Management spokeswoman Gabrielle Boerkircher says one person was killed when a structure collapsed in Jamestown.
She says they don't yet have other details because rescuers haven't been able to reach the scene.
Boekircher says about 400 students at the University of Colorado were evacuated and the campus was shutting down Thursday because of the flooding.
The Weather Service posted flash flood warnings for Boulder County and for parts of Broomfield, Adams, Weld, Larimer, and El Paso counties.
The Post says that mudslides and rockslides it several areas.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a major disaster declaration for 18 Missouri counties hit hard by last month's floods.
The floods that resulted from nearly two weeks of heavy rain caused widespread damage across the southern tier of the state and left at least three people dead.
The White House said in a news release that federal funding is available to help local governments and nonprofits recover. The counties that will benefit are Barry, Camden, Cedar, Dade, Dallas, Laclede, Maries, McDonald, Miller, Osage, Ozark, Phelps, Pulaski, Shannon, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.
Federal funding is also available for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The water has gone down but the need for volunteers to clean up damaged homes remains high in a south-central Missouri county swamped by last month's floods.
The Pulaski County town of Waynesville was among the hardest hit amid several days of heavy rain in early August.
Isabel Lambert is the volunteer coordinator for the county's Community Organizations Active in Disaster, or COAD. COADs are public-private partnerships that respond to disasters.
Lambert said Thursday that more than 230 homes in the Waynesville still have mold, ruined drywall and other problems. She's seeking volunteers to gather at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and again Wednesday through Saturday for the next two weeks at Waynesville City Park to help with cleanup.
For more information, send email to the Pulaski County COAD: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-337-2286.
CONWAY, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon is asking the federal government to issue a major disaster declaration for 22 southern Missouri counties hit hard by this month's floods.
Nixon said Tuesday the costs of emergency response and repairs will be high.
The floods that resulted from nearly two weeks of heavy rain caused widespread damage across the southern tier and left at least three people dead.
Nixon announced his request in Conway, where the waste water treatment system was heavily damaged.
The governor is asking the federal government to clear the way for individual and public assistance in 14 counties, public assistance in four counties and individual assistance in four others.
Individual assistance allows households to seek federal aid for uninsured losses. Public assistance allows local governments to seek help with response and recovery expenses.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Officials in south-central Missouri's Pulaski County say at least 90 percent of their roads were damaged by last week's heavy flooding.
Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk tells KOLR-TV the damage to 65 percent of the roadways in the county is considered major. About two dozen low-water crossings were washed out and remain closed.
Pulaski County was among the hardest hit by floods that swamped much of southern Missouri amid several days of rain. A 23-year-old woman and her 4-year-old son died when their car was caught in a flash flood in Waynesville.
The Red Cross and other agencies opened a one-stop relief center Tuesday in Waynesville for homeowners and others needing help with flood-related losses. The Red Cross says more than 200 families had registered for assistance by Wednesday afternoon.
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Firefighters in south-central Missouri have found the body of a 23-year-old woman who was swept away with her young son in floodwaters earlier this week.
Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long says crews recovered the body of Jessica Lee late Friday in the Roubidoux River in Waynesville. Lee and her 4-year-old son Elyjah Lee were in a car that was swept off a roadway early Tuesday after torrential rains hit the area, flooding streets and damaging homes and businesses.
Long says the vehicle and the child's body were recovered about Tuesday in western Waynesville, but crews continued searching for Lee.
A southwest Missouri woman also died Thursday after another round of torrential downpours caused flash flooding that swept away her car near the town of Jane.