TODAY   |  September 16, 2013

Thousands unaccounted for in Colo. floods

After a week of heavy rain, the damage and destruction in 15 Colorado counties has reached historic levels, with 5 confirmed dead, more than 1200 people unaccounted for and nearly 19,000 homes damaged or destroyed. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> see you there in the new studio 1 -a. the scene is not good at all. i'm standing alone the banks of the canyon creek . this is normally a dry creek bed at this time of the year after a long, hot summer. it's anything but. they have had a solid week of rain here. between 12 and 17 inches of rain. five people have been confirmed dead as a result of massive flooding here. historic flooding here. more than 1200 people are unaccounted for and rescuers are on the scene. i got in here late last night. we saw fema workers waiting to get out and hoping for a break in the weather today so they can get into helicopter and some of those people have been stranded without power and phone service and many without food and water. as i mention, the rescuers are hoping they can get to those people today . this is our top story. nbc's miguel almaguer has been here in boulder for the better part of a week and yesterday during a break in the weather he managed to get in the air and take a look at the scene. good morning to you.

>> good morning. the numbers are staggering. at least 15 counts are effected by this flood. 130 miles of land. the damage is just extensive. the best perspective may come from the air.

>> about 500 feet above the ground level t view of the damage is just extensive. wow, look at this. it's going to certainly take moss to clean up this damage. the flood zone is actually about the size of the entire state of connecticut we're over boulder here. the population used to be about 100,000 but 15,000 people are in the evacuation zone. many of these follow action can't go home. the damage is just too much. rock slides, mud slides, so many disasters. so much devastation, there are simply too many damaged homes to count. the focus remains on rescuing and evacuating thousands of people on the ground. one official said they haven't seen this many americans rescued by the air since katrina. at one point, some 400 children were rescued. the military conveys are going door to door now. they are telling folks to refuse to leave. this maybe their best and their last chance to get out. this is the big thompson river that weaves right through a residential neighborhood. it's flowing over roadways and bridges. it's completely wiped out this section of town. more than 150 miles of roadway have been washed off the map. they are either compromised or simply under water. you wonder how they'll be able to rebuild. how long it will take.

>> how can we ever recover from this? i know exactly, inch by inch, mile by mile, community by community. they're taking this stuff back.

>> those rescue choppers will be in the air again today. matt, more than 1,000 people right now are waiting to be rescued.

>> miguel, thank you for your work here over the last