BOULDER, Colo. - The sun rose over this flood-hammered state Saturday, providing a brief respite after days of torrential rains that have left at least four people dead and thousands evacuated from their homes.
Showers and storms remained in the forecast for area, which normally sees less than two inches of rain in all of September but has been deluged by more than 14 inches this week.
Thousands have been driven from their homes, and some may not be able to return for weeks. Early Saturday National Guard helicopters evacuated hundreds of residents from Jamestown, a mountain town northwest of Boulder.
"Essentially, what they were threatening us with is, 'If you stay here, you may be here for a month,' " 79-year-old Dean Hollenbaugh, who was evacuated by Chinook helicopter from Jamestown, told the Associated Press.
President Obama declared an emergency for three counties in Colorado, and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said a FEMA assistance team was coordinating with state and local officials.
The U.S. Transportation Department said it would immediately provide $5 million in emergency relief funds to help Colorado cover the costs of repairing roads and bridges.
Flood warnings remained in effect Saturday morning throughout the state from Denver to the Wyoming border. Parts of New Mexico and Texas also were dealing with torrential rains, flooding and evacuations.
Boulder County officials said more than 180 people remain unaccounted for but are not considered missing; they have yet to contact family members. Forecasters predicted local downpours and flooding would persist through the weekend.
About 15 miles north of Boulder, the Colorado National Guard began evacuating 2,500 residents of Lyons at daybreak Friday, according to the Boulder County sheriff's office.
"There's no way out of town. There's no way into town. So, basically, now we're just on an island," said Jason Stillman, 37, who was forced with his fiancee to evacuate their home in Lyons after a nearby river began to overflow into the street.