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Break in rain helps Coloradans

AP
A woman is helped off of a military helicopter at the Boulder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colo., on on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, after being rescued. Thousands of people remained stranded by high water and washed out roads in the state. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

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By USA Today
Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
 

BOULDER, Colo. — The death toll from the flooding along Colorado's Front Range grew to seven on Monday as search-and-rescue operations intensified and the storms that have pummeled the state for a week began to subside.

State emergency officials did not release names or details about the latest victims.

Hundreds of residents remain unaccounted for, but the state's earlier estimate of more than 1,250 missing was expected to be significantly lowered after Larimer County officials reported about 400 missing, down from earlier state estimates of about 1,000. Exact numbers remain elusive, because many residents live in isolated or hard-to-reach mountain communities where scores of bridges and roads have been washed out and telephone, cellphone and Internet service has been disrupted for several days.

The National Weather Service expected warmer, drier conditions in the state, with rain ending at night. Yet officials warned there is still potential for flash flooding in and near saturated foothills late Monday afternoon into early evening, as lingering air moisture combined with warmer temperatures could cause scattered thunderstorms.

More than 1,200 people were rescued by vehicles and helicopters Saturday, but 16 rescue helicopters were grounded Sunday after some parts of flooded areas got up to 4 inches of new rain. After seven consecutive days of rain, some regions have gotten as much as 20 inches of rainfall, as much as rainfall in a typical year.

Colorado National Guard Lt. James Goff says 19 helicopters are available for search and rescue. The air rescue operation is one of the nation's largest since Hurricane Katrina but has been hampered by rains and fog.

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