A teenage couple who were making their way home from a birthday party are among the confirmed dead in the Colorado floods.
Wesley Quinlan and Wiyanna Nelson, both 19, are among the now eight confirmed dead. Their car was caught in floodwaters and mud outside Boulder on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 while they were returning home. Quinlan had been accepted to a Colorado film school.
The death toll is expected to increase as about 19,000 homes have been damaged and destroyed. Over 600 people were unaccounted for on the morning of Tuesday, September 17, 2013. The Colorado Office of Emergency Management made an initial estimate that 11,700 people have been forced to leave their homes behind.
President Barack Obama has approved a federal disaster assistance request for the area and the National Guard has been dispatched.
On Monday air crews rescued more than a hundred people in Larimer County. Heavy rains have dampened rescue efforts. Air rescue efforts were planned for Monday with the improved weather.
Quinlan and Nelson were driving out of town with two friends when flood water and rocks started to pour down a mountain road. Their car was soon stuck among flipped cars and mud. Quinlan and Nelson left the car with their friend, Nathan Jennings, who survived. Emily Briggs, who stayed in the car, also survived. Quinlan and Nelson’s bodies were discovered on Friday, September 14, 2013.
Several pockets of individuals were cut off from communication by the flooding between the mountain communities and the city of Fort Morgan. The Daily Mail quoted governor John Hickenlooper, “You’ve got to remember, a lot of these folks lost cellphones, landlines, the Internet four to five days ago.” Hampered by the rain on Sunday, helicopter searches continued on foot up dangerous canyon roads. Hickenlooper said, “Our primary focus is making sure we get everyone in harm’s way out of there.”
The Office of Emergency Management urges people cut off by flood waters without a communication line to signal helicopters passing overhead with sheets, mirrors, flares or signal fires.
Small towns have suffered significant damage, including damage to key infrastructure of gas and sewer lines, which may make the towns uninhabitable up to a year.