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Number of people missing in Colorado flooding drops, officials say

Casey Roy, 9, looks through an outside window at the damage in her family's basement in north Boulder from three feet of flood water on Sept. 12. Rj Sangosti / Denver Post

The number of people unaccounted for in Colorado continues to plummet after a week of torrential rain that claimed the lives of at least seven people statewide.

On Saturday, the official number of people unaccounted for dropped from 82 to 60, officials confirmed.

Six state highways also reopened a week after record rainfall prompted nearly 6,000 families to flee for safety from flooding and landslides and destroyed an estimated 1,900 homes, according to The Denver Post. Fifteen highways remain closed.

The list of people who are unaccounted for statewide has been steadily falling from 1,200 a few days ago, Reuters reported, as families reunite, evacuees register and rescue teams reach areas cut off by the floods.

The official death toll stands at seven: four in Boulder County, two in El Paso and one in Clear Creek County. But at least three others are presumed dead, and Reuters said search dogs were combing a large debris field near Loveland in the Big Thompson River canyon, where a 1976 flood killed more than 140.

The flooding also hit oil fields on the state’s Front Range, and authorities said Friday that at least 22,000 gallons of oil had spilled from tanks, complicating the cleanup effort.

Most of the oil releases reported came from storage tanks or tank farms operated by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Co., according to the AP. At least four of the releases reported by the company were in Weld County and spilled oil into the South Platte River or a tributary, according to information submitted to regulators.

Officials from the city of Lyons, Colo., said Friday that their town could be unlivable for upward of six months.

E. coli bacteria contaminated the drinking water system for Lyons, and the wastewater system suffered at least $1 million in damage, town administrator Victoria Simonsen told the crowd at a meeting Thursday, the Longmont Times Call reported.

Seventeen counties throughout the state were affected by the floods, which destroyed more than 200 commercial properties and damaged 765 more.

The state will spend an estimated $135 million to begin repairs on roads and bridges, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management website.

The only remaining flood warning Saturday afternoon extends from Sterling to the Nebraska state line, reports the Post.

"Right now it's at 10.2 feet in Julesburg. It is slowly decreasing," Jim Kalina, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boulder, told the Post.

NBC's Gil Aegerter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.