By Matt Volz and P. Solomon Banda
The Associated Press
LONGMONT, Colo. — The number of people unaccounted for from Colorado's devastating flooding has fallen dramatically as rescuers reach stranded victims, and electricity and phone services are restored to ravaged areas, allowing residents to contact family, friends or authorities.
But some of the stranded are refusing to leave their homes, prompting crews to show them photos of the surrounding destruction amid warnings that they could be cut off from essential services for several weeks.
Some of those who did leave were getting a firsthand understanding of the destruction. Business owners were allowed back into the heavily damaged town of Lyons to assess the damage on Wednesday, and homeowners under mandatory evacuations were expected to follow Thursday.
Also Wednesday, Jamestown residents were allowed home, and three entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park were reopened.
Jennifer Hillmann, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office north of Boulder, said Wednesday that widespread airlifts have given way to "pinpoint" rescues and door-to-door searches.
Urban search-and-rescue teams with dogs and medical supplies began picking through homes, vehicles and debris piles for victims.
The number of people reported unaccounted for dwindled from a high of 1,200 to about 200.
"We're having a lot of people who are holed up and they don't want to leave the area," Hillmann said. But she added that "we're getting a lot more people calling in and saying, 'hey, here's where I'm at. I'm safe.'"
Search crews also are documenting the damage they find, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.
It is part of responders ending the "high-octane" emergency response to the widespread flooding that began last week "and moving into the long and arduous task ahead," he said.