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Human Airlift Rescue The Largest Since Hurricane Katrina

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Evacuees landing at Boulder Municipal Airport on Monday (credit: CBS)

Evacuees landing at Boulder Municipal Airport on Monday (credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The rescue effort from the flooding in Colorado has included the largest human airlift since Hurricane Katrina as more than 1,700 people have been rescued.

After being grounded all day on Sunday, the helicopter crews made up for lost time on Monday with a massive air rescue operation.

In Boulder County seven helicopters covering 760 square miles flew out approximately 100 pets and more than 200 people. Some people used rocks to write “SOS” and “Help” in their yards.

There are still 183 people who are unaccounted for and the helicopters continue to search for them.

As the helicopters landed one after another the relief could be seen washing over the faces of survivors. Some needed wheelchairs, while others emerged with pets. Entire families, some with young children, were among those who were rescued after being stranded for days.

“They originally told us it would be a couple days, then two weeks, and then two months; and then they told us today that everybody had to evacuate today,” said Robyn, an evacuee.

Robyn and her 11-year-old daughter were flown out of Pinewood Springs and were bused with others to a nearby shelter. She said her small community between Lyons and Estes Park is now an island.

“We were all there and we had nothing, but every little bit that we had we shared,” she said.

“In addition to flying survivors out, the Army flew search-and-rescue teams in, putting them on the ground in the areas that were hit that hardest.

It’s not clear how many people remain trapped. Robyn’s husband was among those missing for days. They were reunited on Sunday.

“My husband was walking up the hill and it was … (crying) … the most beautiful sight in the whole world,” Robyn said.

A sign was posted on one of the Black Hawks that said, “Are you okay?” Crews promise they will continue flying as long as needed.

“If they’re within their limits and the sun goes down, they’re just going to drop their night vision goggles and keep doing it,” a military official said.

The pilots flying the rescue missions are out of Fort Carson. They are the same pilots who dropped water on the Black Forest Fire. There are now 1,000 state and federal personnel in Boulder County alone with another at least 1,000 local first responders.

Colorado Floods: How To Help

The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.

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