Colorado Floods Surge as Toll of Unaccounted Rises

Families continue tireless search for missing residents lost in dangerous flood waters.
5:06 | 09/15/13

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Transcript for Colorado Floods Surge as Toll of Unaccounted Rises
devastation only worsening in colorado tonight. What families are going through there, unimaginable. At least five people dead. Authoritying still trying to reach hundreds more unaccounted for. The punishing rains coming down again this sunday, this epic flooding, leading to the biggest helicopter rescue operation since hurricane katrina. Those rescues screeching to a halt because of the relentless rains. The national guard rescuing 1,700 pele already. Families hoping for reunions like this one. Evacuees finding loved ones after being dropped off at a local high school. From the sky tonight, you can see the damage, the south platte river cutting a highway in half in colorado. The rushing waters pouring into towns. Look at this parking lot. Nothing but tiny dots of color there, cars completely surrounded by the water. Families who have returned home, wading through the mud. Just look at this kitchen, transformed tonight. We're seeing this disaster in a new way this evening. A tiny camera attached to a remote controlled drone. You can see it hovering over the street there, traveling through the trees. We're going to take a closer look, just to show you some of that devastation this evening. We have live team coverage and we begin with abc meteorologist ginger zee, who has been in the middle of it a all. Ginger? Reporter: David, these neighborhoods are piled with big, muddy possessions and you can see, you know, friends, family, strangers that are helping others clean up. We know now that more than 17,000 homes were damaged, more than 1,500 destroyed. All of this as a second threat of evacuation hit the same neighborhood. Ruthless rain. I was kind of scared, because I don't want my house to, like, flood again. Reporter: Rivers still rising. Gnawing away at the road. It is now day five of chaos in colorado. A drone with cameras capturing it all from this spectacular vantage point. Oh, my gosh. This is scary. This is really scary. Reporter: The harrowing escape out of the mountains. We know at least four are c confirmed dead. More than 1,200 unaccounted for. Still, so many areas rescuers haven't reached, couldn't because the choppers were grounded by rain today. The question I had is, how can we ever recover from this? And I know exactly, inch by inch, mile by mile, community by community, they're taking this stuff back. Reporter: The national guard rescued 1,700 in all. Some of the rescues, beyond human. This horse floated to safety. Longmont shelters full of evacuees, including tim hess, caught in it all. I was up to 4 1/2 feet of water and got pinned at a light post. Just extraordinary. Ginger back with us live. Ginger, we know the rescues were halted today because of the continuing rain. Reporter: Right. And it's still sprinkling here but it has gotten lighter and it will. A half inch to one inch in colorado springs in that purple. The flood watches and warnings are still in place. The rivers still very high. We worry about that going through tomorrow. So, we'll keep those up, david. How many days, ginger, do the colorado families have to go through this before any chance of drying out? Reporter: You know, the pattern has been so moist. We've seen all the moisture pull up, a stuck front. There have been a lot of problems, as we know. Now things are going to improve. The overall scale of this is going to come in with some drier air. The pattern changing, some good news by tuesday. David? All right, tremendous reporting, ginger. Send those families our best. As you heard ginger report there, hundreds still unaccounted for, power out, cell phone service overwhelmed, making the task of finding them all the more difficult. Families unable to find their loved ones and abc's clayton sandell on the growing number and the race to find them. Reporter: Tonight, officials say nearly 1,200 people are unaccounted for, a number still rising. Authorities say tracking the missing during a natural disaster is complicated. It's part communication. Across hundreds of square miles, power lines, internet and phone service are knocked out to hundreds still stranded. And people are spread out. Many evacuated to other states. 1,200 others are scattered across 26 different red cross shelters alone. On some lists, names show up more than once. Many of those, it may be a bookkeeping cross referencing issues, but lots of parties have been evacuated. We've had trouble with phone service. And, so, we'll have a master list that will get shorter. Reporter: The red cross and united way are asking people to register online, if they are safe. Tonight, there has been much progress reaching the stranded in areas cut off by raging waters. The national guard helping rescue 85 school kids and their chaperones saturday in the mountains nears jamestown. Another group on a field trip finally made it out in a caravan, back to anxious parents. One of the snowplows come in front of us and pushed the water in front of it so we could get across. Reporter: With such total destruction, officials say it could be weeks before everyone is accounted for. Clayton sandell, abc news, morrison, colorado.

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