Rescue crews operating under sunny skies Tuesday in Boulder County had what might be classified as an easy day, considering the mammoth efforts of the past week to evacuate people stranded by the deadly, devastating flooding.
Teams rescued 10 more people Tuesday. Eight were evacuated by search and rescue teams on the ground, and two were airlifted out by an infantry division based in Fort Carson, officials said.
The total number of people rescued has reached 1,647 in Boulder County, according to officials. The number of those still "unaccounted for" has fallen to 109.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 4,071 structures have been evaluated in Boulder County since the flood, with 262 homes considered destroyed and 290 damaged. In terms of commercial structures, four have been destroyed and 30 damaged.
Second Lt. Sky Robinson, a spokesman for the Colorado National Guard, said Tuesday was a good day, though there is still work to be done.
"I know that today the number of rescues dramatically dropped. That's a good sign," Robinson said, noting teams did a systematic search of the county's canyons and other affected areas to make sure no one was left behind. "But there are still missions out there for (the rescue teams). They'll continue operations until they are not needed anymore."
Carrie Haverfield, of the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, said emergency crews have cleared 736 cases of "unaccounted for" people to date, including 74 on Tuesday.
While efforts are moving into the damage assessment and recovery phase, the life-preservation phase is not over.
"We're still focusing on search and rescue, and that will remain our priority because we still have those 109 unaccounted for," said Colette Crouse, of Boulder OEM.
Three people are confirmed dead as a result of last week's flooding. One man was killed in his Jamestown home, and two teens died after being swept away in floodwaters on Linden Drive just outside of Boulder.
Helicopters started taking off from Boulder Municipal Airport around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday as clearer skies allowed pilots to get an earlier start on flights than Monday, when early fog delayed missions. Conditions are again expected to be clear Wednesday, though officials have not yet decided how many of the seven helicopters used for search and rescue Tuesday will again be sent up Wednesday.
Residents in need of rescue are asked to use sheets, flares or mirrors to signal passing helicopters and to have a bag ready with clothes and medication.
About 1,150 of all evacuations have been by air. More than 500 were driven out in trucks and high-clearance vehicles.
All told, officials have referred to the air evacuation and rescue efforts as the largest since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
Crews have also rescued 120 pets.
Officials said Boulder police did detain a pilot for landing his private helicopter in the restricted area. The investigation is being handed over the Federal Aviation Administration.
Officials have said 100 to 150 miles of road and 20 to 30 bridges have been wiped out, which is estimated to cost the county about $100 to $150 million.
FEMA spokesman Ricardo Zuniga said people are encouraged to register to see if they qualify for assistance, by calling 800-621-3362 or visiting disasterassistance.gov.
Zuniga said statewide, 6,400 people so far have registered, and $430,000 in assistance has been provided.
"We're here to help you," Zuniga said. "Assistance is on a case-by-case basis, and it's not guaranteed. But if you don't register, it's guaranteed you won't get assistance."
Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said the city is no longer conducting live-rescue efforts and has turned its efforts to clearing debris and fixing sewage backups.
University of Colorado police spokesman Ryan Huff said the university saw "pretty good" participation after it re-opened the school Monday.