Colorado flood evacuees return under clear skies to find more heartbreak

HYGIENE, Colo. (AP) — The rains have finally stopped in Colorado.

The clearing skies and receding waters allowed crews to intensify their search efforts Monday and assess the damage. Twenty-one helicopters fanned out over the mountainsides and the plains to drop supplies and airlift those who needed help.

State officials say the disaster has killed as many as eight people.

Hundreds remain unaccounted for, but that number has been decreasing. The state’s count dropped yesterday from more than 1,200 to about half that. Officials hoped the number of missing will continue declining as rescuers locate more people and those cut off from phone or Internet communications finally get in touch with families.

The improved weather has allowed some flood evacuees to return home. Many are finding their houses destroyed and are coming to the realization that rebuilding will take months.

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335-a-10-(Chuck Russell, deputy incident commander, Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team, at news conference)-”those individuals out”-Deputy Incident Commander Chuck Russell says more than 300 people were evacuated Monday, and they hope, weather permitting, to get many more out on Tuesday. COURTESY: KMGH TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (16 Sep 2013)

<<CUT *335 (09/16/13)££ 00:10 “those individuals out”

336-a-07-(Nick Christensen, executive officer, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, at news conference)-”sight to see”-Larimer County Sheriff’s Executive Officer Nick Christensen says he was at the landing pad and witnessed the helicopter crews delivering more residents to safety. COURTESY: KMGH TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (16 Sep 2013)

<<CUT *336 (09/16/13)££ 00:07 “sight to see”

337-a-15-(Nick Christensen, executive officer, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office , at news conference)-”or even months”-Larimer County Sheriff’s Executive Officer Nick Christensen says it will be a long time before authorities can whittle down the list of people who are unaccounted for. COURTESY: KMGH TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (16 Sep 2013)

<<CUT *337 (09/16/13)££ 00:15 “or even months”

338-a-09-(Nick Christensen, executive officer, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office , at news conference)-”who’ve been evacuated”-Larimer County Sheriff’s Executive Officer Nick Christensen says deputies are keeping a sharp eye out for looters. COURTESY: KMGH TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (16 Sep 2013)

<<CUT *338 (09/16/13)££ 00:09 “who’ve been evacuated”

APPHOTO COGRE103: A couple walks through the water at Eastwood Mobile Home Park on Monday, Sept 16, 2013, in Evans, Colo. after collecting some items from their home. Many families were able to visit their homes Monday as the water levels receded. Weary Colorado evacuees have begun returning home after days of rain and flooding, but Monday’s clearing skies and receding waters revealed only more heartbreak: toppled houses, upended vehicles and a stinking layer of muck covering everything. (AP Photo/The Greeley Tribune, Joshua Polson) (15 Sep 2013)

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APPHOTO COFOR102: In this aerial photo, vehicles in a lot are submerged in flood waters Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Greeley, Colo. Rescuers grounded by weekend rains took advantage of the break in the weather to resume searches for people still stranded, with 21 helicopters fanning out over the mountainsides and the plains to drop supplies and airlift those who need help. (AP Photo/The Coloradoan, Dawn Madura) (16 Sep 2013)

<<APPHOTO COFOR102 (09/16/13)££

APPHOTO COGRE105: In this aerial photo, a home is pulled into the fast currents of the flooded South Platte River off of U.S 34 between Greeley and Kersey, Colo., Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Weary Colorado evacuees have begun returning home after days of rain and flooding, but Monday’s clearing skies and receding waters revealed only more heartbreak: toppled houses, upended vehicles and a stinking layer of muck covering everything. (AP Photo/The Greeley Tribune, Joshua Polson) (16 Sep 2013)

<<APPHOTO COGRE105 (09/16/13)££

APPHOTO COCS111: Cars moved around by floodwaters are piled up in Longmont, Colo., on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. Floodwaters have affected a 4,500 square-mile section of the state inundating entire neighborhoods and destroying bridges and roads. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider) (7 Mar 2012)

<<APPHOTO COCS111 (03/07/12)££

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