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Wary Nebraska watches as Colorado overflow rolls east

Wary Nebraska watches as Colorado overflow rolls east
Colorado National Guard
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 9:30am

LYONS, Colorado (CNN) -- As Colorado copes with the aftermath of deadly floods, the high waters rolled toward Nebraska early Wednesday, where anxious residents prepared for potential overflows.

Runoff from Colorado flooding is coursing into neighboring Nebraska, forecasters said.

"The exact crest stages are still uncertain as the waters are just moving into Nebraska," the National Weather Service said. "It is possible that upcoming forecasts could change so those along the river should stay tuned for updated information."

The runoff is rushing down the South Platte River, which runs from south of Denver into Nebraska.

"We're in the Grand Island area anxiously waiting to see how the Platte River responds and to see how much of the water reaches us here," Mary Harner told CNN affiliate KHAS.

Colorado flood aftermath

In neighboring Colorado, where floods killed six and left hundreds unaccounted for, the numbers from last week's flooding are sobering.

State emergency management officials revised the statewide death toll downward from eight Tuesday.

At least 17 counties are affected with about 300 people unaccounted, state emergency officials said.

Most of the people on the unaccounted list are likely alive and well, but have failed to check in with authorities to let them know.

Evacuations ongoing

Larimer County rescue crews continued evacuating as many people as possible Tuesday, authorities said. The week's weather forecast looked favorable for crews, and forecasts called for only slight chances of afternoon storm midweek, officials said.

"At this point the mission is getting folks down off the mountain, getting them down safely," said Nick Christensen, executive officer of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

Homes tossed around

Many returned home to heartbreaking scenes. In the town of Lyons,15 miles north of Boulder, flood waters pushed entire houses around like furniture.

Streets are dotted with snapped power poles. Rescue workers and the National Guard members outnumber residents, who were forced to evacuate.

The two branches of the St. Vrain Creek bisect this town, and nearly swallowed it whole.

'Here's what's left'

Abe Vasquez tried to step through the living room of his 78-year-old mother's home. His feet slowly sank in the two feet of raw sewage that had pooled there.

"Here's what's left," Vasquez said. "That's her walker. That's the other one."

It took 79 years to build the place, Vasquez said. It took 24 hours for it all to disappear.

"It's gone," he said. "It's hard."

In nearby Longmont, Jeff Larsen considered himself a little more fortunate. His home is damaged. But at least it's still standing.

Like many, Casey Korbely wants to return home. But pictures from his Boulder County neighborhood show cars buried in mud, and a huge hole where a road once stood.

"The cops and firefighters said it would probably take two to three weeks before they can build a bridge and we can get our vehicles out. "

Nearly 18,000 homes have been damaged statewide.

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