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Terry Kishiyma’s son flagged down a helicopter with his shirt after a three-day wait for rescue from a neighbor’s house on higher ground.
"You could hear the choppers for miles and miles, but I didn’t know if they were evacuating people. You see a chopper going down behind a ridge, and you have no clue," Kishiyma said.
In addition to his son’s efforts, Kishiyma said his wife shouted at the chopper, "We have babies!"
Above the plains of Larimer County, rescue crews planned to fly as many missions as possible while skies were clear. Crews used inflatable boats to pick up families and pets from farmhouses. Some evacuees on horseback had to be escorted to safe ground.
Near Greeley, 35 miles east of the foothills, broad swaths of farmland had become lakes, and the raging South Platte and Poudre rivers surrounded more homes.
For those awaiting an airlift, Guardsmen dropped food, water and other supplies into the winding, narrow canyons. With supplies dwindling, residents of Lyons barbecued their food before it spoiled.
In one Boulder neighborhood, residents turned back city crews and machinery that arrived to remove the makeshift berms and sand-filled trash bags used to protect their homes. University of Colorado students helped as homeowners improvised to divert the rising water from Gregory Creek.
"The residents know better than anybody else how the water flows through the neighborhood," said Colleen Scanlan Lyons.
After being closed for more than a day, Interstate 25 to the Wyoming border was reopened Saturday.
In communities where floodwaters began receding, homeowners had a chance to assess damage.
In Laporte, Wendy Clark surveyed soggy carpets and furniture that got damaged by the Poudre River.
"This mud smells disgusting," she said. "I don’t know how long that’s going to be around."
Associated Press Writer Mead Gruver in LaPorte, Colo., contributed to this report.
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