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Discovery of woman, 79, raises Colo. flood death toll to 8

| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

DENVER — A 79-year-old woman whose house was swept away by the Big Thompson River was found dead on the river bank, authorities said Monday, bringing to eight the death toll from the disastrous flooding in Colorado.

As the number of people who are unaccounted for dwindled to six, Vice President Joe Biden viewed the devastation from a helicopter before meeting with disaster workers.

“I promise you, I promise you, there will be help,” Biden said, trying to mute concerns that a possible federal government shutdown could derail relief efforts.

The latest victim was identified as Evelyn M. Starner. Larimer County authorities said she drowned and suffered blunt-force trauma. Starner had been listed as missing and presumed dead. Authorities initially said she was 80.

Starner was found on Saturday. One other person is still missing and presumed dead — a 60-year-old woman from Larimer County. A man was taken off the list when he walked into the sheriff's office.

The number of unaccounted-for people shrank as improving communications and road access allowed authorities to contact 54 people during the weekend who had not been heard from.

The floods caused damage in 17 counties and across nearly 2,000 square miles. Nearly 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, along with more than 200 miles of state highways and 50 state bridges.

The floods are blamed for spills of about 27,000 gallons of oil in northern Colorado oilfields, including two mishaps found during the weekend, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said.

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