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Search continues for flood survivors in Colorado

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Updated: 9/17/2013 6:59 pm
(NBC News) -- Hundreds remain unaccounted for in Colorado but that number has been decreasing.

The rains have finally stopped and officials hope the number of missing will continue declining as rescuers locate more people.

With sunshine and drier conditions for a second day across northern Colorado, we're learning more about the scope of the tragedy there.

More than 200 miles of the front-range are still underwater right now.

The early numbers from the flood are, like the waters, overwhelming.

Nearly 18,000 homes damaged and more than 1,600 completely washed away.

Teams in the field expect both of those totals to climb, but right now they continue to focus on finding survivors.

"Obviously the number one priority is the life safety component and continue to get people out of the areas to be evacuated," said Nick Christensen of the Larimer County Sheriff's Department.

Crews report 21 choppers have pulled more than 12,000 people to safety so far.

It's an effort that will continue for days with hundreds still stranded and more than 600 still unaccounted for.

Ground teams are also pushing into some of the hardest hit communities now.

Including a hotshot fire team from left hand canyon where they've battled wildfires, but now take on raging waters.

"They are going structure by structure. The first thing that's doing is getting confirmations on who has been taken out, what structures have been cleared to injuries or damage, documenting those who continue to shelter in place," said Justin Smith of the Larimer County Sheriff's Department.

-- Jay Gray, NBC News reports

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