LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The confirmed death toll from massive floods in the US state of Colorado has risen to eight, while more than 600 people remain unaccounted for, officials said early Tuesday.
Helicopters resumed search and rescue missions, helped by clearer weather after days of torrential rain that has left over 1,500 homes destroyed and more than 17,000 damaged.
Five teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are bolstering hundreds of state and local officers trying to reach hundreds of residents stranded by the floods, centered on Boulder County north of Denver.
“We have a strong opportunity here, with FEMA’s help, to come out of this whole situation with a stronger infrastructure,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told a press briefing.
On Sunday, heavy rain prevented helicopters from taking off for most of the day as officials put the number of people unaccounted for at more than 1,200 across the western state.
But on Monday there was even blue sky in some areas, allowing some 21 helicopters to take to the air.
“We are hoping to take advantage of the weather today and get those rescue operations complete,” spokeswoman Micki Trost of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management was quoted as saying by the Denver Post.
In all seven people have died, including three in Boulder County, two in El Paso County and two missing presumed dead in Larimer County, said the Colorado Office of Emergency management (COEM) in its latest update.