Biggest aerial response since Katrina: Helicopters to search for - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Biggest aerial response since Katrina: Helicopters to search for 1,200 missing in Colo.

Posted:

Courtesy NBC News

By Erin McClam and Alexander Smith, NBC News

Rescue crews in Colorado, mounting what was called the largest civilian helicopter mission since Hurricane Katrina, waited for clear weather Monday in hopes of reaching hundreds of people trapped by catastrophic floods.

Authorities instructed the stranded to set flares, wave light-colored sheets from the roofs of houses and use mirrors to reflect the sunlight and attract the attention of the teams sent to save them.

The floods have killed at least five people, wrecked more than 17,000 homes and left more than 1,200 people unaccounted for. Phone service, cell and landline, was out across much of the disaster zone, blocking authorities from knowing the full human toll.

"I'm hopeful that the vast majority of these people are safe and sound," Gov. John Hickenlooper said on NBC's TODAY. "But we do not have any illusions that there could well be more casualties."

In Larimer County, along the Wyoming state line, 16 helicopters from the National Guard and other agencies stood by. Authorities hoped the weather would allow a full aerial rescue Monday.

In Boulder County, closer to Denver, crews were going house to house looking for stranded people. The Army and National Guard had rescued at least 1,750 people cut off by washed-out roads in the mountain canyons, an Army spokesman said.

Search-and-rescue teams from Utah, Nebraska, Nevada, California and Missouri were in Colorado or on their way to help, according to KUSA, the NBC affiliate in Denver. The floods have wrecked

Forecasters said the rain would probably taper off Monday, but the weather presented another challenge — fog.

On Sunday, authorities added 12 counties to a presidential disaster declaration, increasing the total to 15. Federal officials provided food, water, cots and generators, bolstering the state and local response.

People in the 15 counties can also apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those counties cover 4 million people.

Separately, President Barack Obama on Saturday declared a major disaster for Boulder County. That step makes it easier for flood victims to get help for temporary housing and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Brinley Bruton and Elisha Fieldstadt of NBC News contributed to this report. Reuters also contributed.

Related:

Read on NBC News

  • Armed Gunmen Ransack Apartment

    Armed Gunmen Ransack Apartment

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:17 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:17:33 GMT
    Two armed gunman ransacked an apartment unit at the Glen Willows Apartments Wednesday evening. A 21-year-old man inside the apartment was told to stay on the ground while the crooks stole various items.More >>
    Two armed gunman ransacked an apartment unit at the Glen Willows Apartments Wednesday evening. A 21-year-old man inside the apartment was told to stay on the ground while the crooks stole various items.More >>
  • Residents Fight To Get Messy Situation Cleaned Up

    Residents Fight To Get Messy Situation Cleaned Up

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:14 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:14:18 GMT
    Some Local residents banned together to do something about a messy problem that had been plaguing their street. Our Katia Uriarte explains what they did. If you have a trash or debris pick up complaint, you can reach out to the city at 361-826-3000The City also has an app called "My Waste App." You can use it to check out scheduled brush pick up dates, file a complaint, and more. You can get the app by clicking here.More >>
    Some Local residents banned together to do something about a messy problem that had been plaguing their street. Our Katia Uriarte explains what they did. If you have a trash or debris pick up complaint, you can reach out to the city at 361-826-3000The City also has an app called "My Waste App." You can use it to check out scheduled brush pick up dates, file a complaint, and more. You can get the app by clicking here.More >>
  • Special Report: On Shaky Ground

    Special Report: On Shaky Ground

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:10 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:10:38 GMT
    One student wants to do voice over work in Hollywood. Another wants to get her degree in finance. What do they have in common? They both entered the country illegally. Although their deportations are frozen for now, their sense of belonging are split between two countries.Take a closer look in a 3News Special Report: On Shaky Ground.More >>
    One student wants to do voice over work in Hollywood. Another wants to get her degree in finance. What do they have in common? They both entered the country illegally. Although their deportations are frozen for now, their sense of belonging are split between two countries.Take a closer look in a 3News Special Report: On Shaky Ground.More >>