Colorado floods: Thousands evacuated

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. - As the sun broke through low-lying clouds late Monday morning, crews worked by air and land to rescue and locate stranded residents after record-breaking floods in Boulder County. 

At Boulder Municipal Airport, rescuers with the Fort Carson Fourth Infantry Division worked with multiple helicopters, flying into areas where residents had become stranded. Chinook helicopters, which can carry up to thirty evacuees at one time with their pets and a small amount of luggage, landed and quickly unloaded, before taking off again. 

As evacuees returned to the airport, they were greeted with medical care, food, water and transportation to the YMCA in Boulder at Mapleton and 28th Street. By 2 p.m., Lieutenant Colonel Utterback with the United States Army said more than 200 people had been rescued with more than 100 pets. He was hopeful that the number could double or triple if weather cooperated. 

Meanwhile, highly-trained rescue crews from Utah and Montana climbed into humvees to approach the situation by land. They checked residences in Left Hand Canyon and Four Mile Canyon, trying to check off the unaccounted in a database of homes. 

Since the flood started, more than 1,700 people have been rescued by the military in Boulder County, 1,150 of them by air.

In Four Mile Canyon, they find Lydia Tirpak, who says she doesn't want to leave yet.

"We've all sorted banded together to pool our food resources, we all have power and water. So we're fine, we just can't get down anywhere," she said.

The rescuers tell Tirpak that if she wants to stay, she should not leave her residence, and she should communicate if she needs help. 

Craig Outzen, with Utah Task Force 1, said, "We've had other evacuees since we talked to them realize there is a little bit more danger to them and that they won't have infrastructure support and they've decided on their own to evacuate."

The crew moves to Left Hand Creek, where structures have been tossed aside, and more roads are impassable.  Wagon Wheel Gap is crumpled like peanut brittle and a home nearby sits like a stone in a newly carved river, with water rushing around and through it. 

Outzen said, "Mother Nature is pretty strong, and when she decides to do something, she's going to be able to accomplish that."

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