National News

Sep 16, 2013 11:40 AM by NBC News

Flood Water Hampers Rescues

Rescue crews in Colorado, mounting what was called the largest civilian helicopter mission since Hurricane Katrina, waited for clear weather Monday in hopes of reaching hundreds of people trapped by catastrophic floods.

Authorities instructed the stranded to set flares, wave light-colored sheets from the roofs of houses and use mirrors to reflect the sunlight and attract the attention of the teams sent to save them.

The floods have killed at least five people, wrecked more than 17,000 homes and left more than 1,200 people unaccounted for. Phone service, cell and landline, was out across much of the disaster zone, blocking authorities from knowing the full human toll.

"I'm hopeful that the vast majority of these people are safe and sound," Gov. John Hickenlooper said on NBC's TODAY. "But we do not have any illusions that there could well be more casualties."

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