Wed September 18, 2013
Colorado Flood

Helicopter Rescues Scaling Back

As waters recede and the skies stay clear, the dramatic air rescues bringing in evacuees from the flood stricken Front Range are being reduced.

Rescues are moving slower Wednesday in Larimer County as helicopter crews head to more difficult places to reach. Meantime, Larimer Sheriff Executive Officer Nick Christensen says some mountain residents are choosing to stay behind.

Something he says is ill advised.

“I want them to make good decisions and think about can they go without mail, can they go without groceries, potentially power and lights and access to medical care etc, for potentially all of winter and possibly beyond,” said Christensen.

Civilian rescue personnel and members of the Colorado Army National Guard 3rd Battalion 157th Field Artillery Alpha Battery use a rescue basket to load an elderly Glen Haven, Colo., Sept. 16.
Credit U.S Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Joseph K. VonNida/RELEASED

Access to these areas is the reason. Many roads, bridges and canyons are damaged and it will take time to repair. Mountain communities like Estes Park still only have limited road access, though progress is being made.

“They may not be able to get to a grocery store, or other resources as they have in the past,” warns Christensen. “So it could be a tough situation for someone who elects not to evacuate. They would need to be very well prepared.”

Air crews in Boulder only rescued 10 people Tuesday The Daily Camera reports. They note that most have either been evacuated or, like in Larimer County, they have chosen to remain in the area.

"We'll just be up there in case people make a decision that they want to go," National Guard Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback tells The Daily Camera, noting that officials are also considering sending some helicopters back to Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.

County officials say they don’t have specific numbers on those declining to evacuate. Overall, the Colorado Natural Guard reports that more than 2000 have been airlifted to safety across the state since rescue efforts began.