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Man presumed dead in Colorado flood is alive; 6 remain missing

A woman, however, is found dead. Vice President Joe Biden visits Colorado and says the threat of a government shutdown won't keep flood victims from getting help from FEMA.

September 23, 2013|By Matt Pearce
  • A helicopter carrying Vice President Joe Biden provides a view of flood damage near Estes Park, Colo.
A helicopter carrying Vice President Joe Biden provides a view of flood… (Ed Andrieski / Associated…)

A man who was missing and presumed dead after Colorado's historic flooding has turned up alive, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old man from Drake, north of Boulder, had been spotted in his cabin just before floodwaters claimed it, Larimer County sheriff's spokesman John Schulz said.

"He told us that he was able to climb out of a window just prior to the home being washed away," Schulz said.

Officials also said Monday that of the 1,200 people unaccounted for after floods deluged Colorado this month, only six remained missing.

Not everyone was fortunate: Officials announced that they had found the body of a 79-year-old woman along the banks of the Big Thompson River over the weekend, bringing the disaster's confirmed death toll to eight.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Colorado and met with Gov. John Hickenlooper and Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate to tour flood-stressed areas.

Biden promised that the threat of a federal government shutdown would not keep flood victims from getting help from FEMA hotlines and recovery centers.

"It's probably going to scare the living devil out of you," Biden said of the possible shutdown, but added, "There will be someone on the other end of the line who will walk you through."

Biden's aerial tour of the damage included a trip through Larimer County, where mountain floods knocked out access roads that had connected faraway residents to food and safety. Officials made 16 rescues in Larimer County over the weekend.

Larimer County is also where scores of residents have chosen to stay behind, declining to be evacuated by helicopter even as officials urged them to leave.

Most of the names previously on the unaccounted-for list were Larimer County holdouts, Schulz said, "people that are back in the mountain areas [who] might not have any phone service, that kind of thing."

Now residents want to get back to their isolated properties, though not necessarily to stay.

"In this area in particular, people are worried about getting back in their home to winterize it," Schulz said. "We had snow here in the mountains last night. Winter is fast approaching."

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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