Page 2 of 2 Previous
With phone service being restored to some of the areas over the weekend, officials hoped that number would drop as they contacted more stranded people.
As many as 1,000 people in Larimer County were awaiting rescue Sunday, but airlifts were grounded because of the rain, Type 2 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team commander Shane Del Grosso said.
Hundreds more people are unaccounted for to the south in Boulder County and other flood-affected areas.
The town of Lyons, about 20 miles from Estes Park, was almost completely abandoned. Emergency crews gave the few remaining residents, mostly wandering aimlessly on Main Street, looking for status updates from each other, a final warning to leave Sunday.
One man, a bluegrass musician, has been visiting his home every day and taking photos. The house has a river running through it and he can't get close.
Most of the town's trailer parks were completely destroyed. One angry man was throwing his possessions one-by-one into the river rushing along one side of his trailer on Sunday, watching the brown water carry them away while drinking a beer.
In Estes Park, Lancaster called the flood a 500-year event. He said it was worse than previous flash floods because of the sustained rains and widespread damage to infrastructure across the Rocky Mountain Foothills. Major road were washed away, small towns like Glen Haven reduced to debris and key infrastructure like gas lines and sewers systems destroyed, meaning hundreds of homes in Estes Park alone could be unreachable and uninhabitable for up to a year.
The good news here in Estes Park and the Estes Valley, Lancaster said, was there appeared to be no loss of life.
Still, hundreds remained stranded in remote areas.
"We know there are a lot of people trapped but they are trapped alive," he told people gathered at Red Cross evacuation shelter Sunday afternoon.
And rescues continued throughout the day Sunday any way possible, including zip lines rigged to hoist people and pets across swollen rivers and creeks.
That's how retirees Jerry Grove and Dorothy Scott-Grove -- and their two golden retrievers -- were finally rescued Friday night from their vacation cabin in Glen Haven. Although they may not be able to get back to their new car for six months to a year, and they were still trying to figure out how to get home, Scott-Grove said they were glad to be alive and were now looking at the experience as a "great adventure."
As many as 1,700 homes in the Estes Park area were under evacuation notice, Lancaster said, but the issue was more about lack of access because of washed out roads and destroyed infrastructure.
Even the town's historic Stanley Hotel, a structure that was the inspiration for Stephen King's "The Shining," suffered damaged, despite its perch on a hilltop overlooking the town and the river. Front desk worker Renee Maher said the ground was so saturated that water was seeping in through the foundation, and had caused one suite's bathtub to pop out "like a keg," Maher said.
Ironically, the massive Estes Ark — a toy store two stories high designed to look like Noah's Ark — was high and dry.
"I don't know if it's open anymore, but soon it's going to be our only way out," joked Carly Blankfein.