FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Some evacuated residents in Larimer County are eager to return home but fear by the time they get there, irreparable damage may have been done. Others refused to leave and built a road in and out.
Rescue and damage assessment crews are making huge steps forward in assessing the damage in the 1,500 square miles of the flood zone.
There were 15 helicopters flying on Thursday to help with rescue operations.
Targeted rescues continued Wednesday and a total of 28 people were rescued and brought to the Timberline Church evacuation center.
Hundreds of people in Larimer County have refused to leave their homes and property despite being urged to move to safer conditions.
Larimer County estimates approximately 120 people in Storm Mountain Area and another 73 people in Pinewood Springs have chosen to shelter in place and remain in their homes.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith went up into Storm Mountain on Wednesday to check on some of those who elected to stay. He will meet with residents in Pinewood Springs on Thursday.
He said those who haven’t evacuated have started building a road so they can get supplies if needed.
“A crew of 40 people who live there who built a mile-and-a-half stretch of road by hand, they’re not going to be stopped easily, so it is our responsibility to work with them. And it’s my responsibility to advocate for them reasonably and make sure they don’t have unrealistic expectations and protect the property as well,” said Smith.
Smith said most of those who are choosing to say either work from home or are retired. It was commuter residents who sought safer conditions.
Around 139 people remain missing in Larimer County but that number could increase because it’s based on homes and doesn’t take into account for the number of people inside those homes.
There are three confirmed reports of missing and presumed dead with the addition of a 46-year-old man from Drake whose home was washed away. The two other reports are of a 60-year-old woman and an 80-year-old woman from Cedar Cove who also had homes wash away.
Smith said it will be months before some of the evacuees are able to get back in their homes.
Evacuee Joe Wright lives along the Big Thompson River near Drake where flooding encompassed his home.
He was airlifted out of the canyon but was unable to take any of his valuables and personal items.
With no way to get back to his home he fears even though his home may still be standing it be long before irreparable damage is done.
“If our house is still in habitable condition we want to keep it that way. We want to winterize. We want to get up there, blow out pipes and grab a few things to have little pieces of mind,” said Wright.
Smith said although he understands where residents like Wright are coming from he said safety is a priority and there isn’t anyway to make that happen, at least not for a while.
Smith also said they will work to protect property in neighborhoods that has been evacuated from being looted or vandalized.
The Larimer County Landfill is now accepting flood debris and waste from the recent flooding events. For details on costs please refer to the website larimer.org/solidwaste.
The Larimer County Humane Society is compiling a list of residents who have needs for animal rescue in evacuated areas. Anyone with questions can call 970-226-3647, option #7.
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.