LYONS, Colo. — By air and by land, the rescue of hundreds of Coloradoans stranded by epic mountain flooding was accelerating as food and water supplies ran low, while thousands more were driven from their homes as debris-filled rivers inundated towns and farms miles from the Rockies.
For the first time since the mountain floods began Wednesday, Colorado got its first broad view of the devastation. The flooding has affected parts of a 4,500-square-mile area.
Some 2,500 residents from Lyons were evacuated Friday. National Guard choppers were evacuating 295 people from the mountain hamlet of Jamestown, which was isolated by flooding. For those awaiting an airlift, Guardsmen dropped food, water and other supplies in the town.
Mike Smith, incident commander at Boulder Municipal Airport, said helicopters would continue flying in and out into the night.
The dayslong rush of water from higher ground has killed four people and turned towns on Colorado’s expansive eastern plains into muddy swamps.
Boulder County officials said Friday night that the number of people unaccounted for had risen to 172, according to local television and newspaper reports. The officials said earlier the figure doesn’t necessarily represent missing people.
The floods also forced the closure Friday of Rocky Mountain National Park.