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Big Thompson Canyon Evacuees Describe Being Stuck After Flood

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Jason Breeding talks with CBS4's Nina Sparano (credit: CBS)

Jason Breeding talks with CBS4’s Nina Sparano (credit: CBS)

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Amid the organized chaos of the disaster emergency center in Loveland on Monday were reunions, hugs and tears.

The Red Cross shelter at Timberline Church is full of suitcases waiting for their owners, dogs waiting to be picked up, and people registering to spend the night.

More than 250 people have been airlifted and evacuated by National Guard troops out of stranded areas in the Big Thompson Canyon west of Loveland.

“It was a disaster,” said Jason Breeding, who lives in Drake and was rescued on Monday. “The water just came down the canyon so hard it just took everything out in front of it.”

A historic surge of the Big Thompson River tore through the Big Thompson Canyon late last week in the middle of the night.

“It was dark, so we couldn’t see what was happening at night,” Breeding said. “You could just hear the river. It just sounded like a train.”

Jason and his wife Joy’s home sits on higher ground but their neighbors weren’t so lucky.

“We had to go down in the middle of the night in the rain to grab our neighbors because their houses started to wash away while they were still in them,” Jason said.

In the days that followed 24 people huddled together at the top of a hill waiting for help.

“It was crowded,” Drake homeowner Sue Sessler said. “We all shared food. There was plenty of food to go around.”

“Some of the guys climbed up on top of the Colorado Department of Transportation building on the roof with spray paint and wrote ‘NEED MEDS NEED OXYGEN’ and that there was 24 people’ so it could be seen from the air,” Sessler said.

Breeding said he’s glad their nightmare is over.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Breeding said. “And I’ve gotten through hurricanes on the Texas Coast and this is far worse, far worse.”

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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