BIG THOMPSON CANYON, Colo. -- Nick Christensen stared up the road, past the point where sometime last week it had stopped being a road.
Highway 34, one of the winding arteries that connects Estes Park and some mountain-dwellers to civilization east of the Rockies, lay cluttered and broken in front of him.
Part of the road had plunged into the foaming Big Thompson River, running parallel to the highway perhaps about 12 feet below.
"I was just thinking," said Christensen, a spokesman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, "when I was last up here, the water was up to the road. Just, waves coming."
Now the waves were gone — replaced by a pile of mud, stone and broken timber.
Colorado has been granted a reprieve from last week's relentless rains, which brought flooding that pummeled more than a dozen counties.
But tallying the destruction of property and infrastructure has only just begun, and a tour into restricted areas of Larimer County on Tuesday evening gave a glimpse of how vicious the rains had been.
First, a few photos from the outskirts of Loveland, where low-lying areas are either still flooded out or plunged into a layer of mud so thick that it has partially swallowed cars and buildings.
At the Riverview RV Park, the Big Thompson River had ripped away some of the roadway, swamped the park, sucked buildings into the mud, and piled broken trees against the trusses of the bridge over the river.
And at the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon, Highway 34 remains cluttered with debris and ultimately ends where it collapsed into the river, cutting off rescuers from stranded residents in the mountains.
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