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Colorado flood death toll rises to 8; Biden tours damage

With the possibility of a government shutdown looming, Vice President Biden reassures Colorado flood victims saying that the federal assistance that they are receiving will not be cut if Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution.

Colorado residents are in the early stages of recovery after a catastrophic flood earlier this month tore through the area killing eight people, leaving hundreds of people in shelters and destroying thousands of acres of land. Vice President Joe Biden promised federal relief would continue despite a possible government shut down at a press conference Monday afternoon in Greeley, Colo.

Biden acknowledged that hearing about the showdown in Washington is probably scary for people living in shelters and benefiting from government services, but that relief funding is not in jeopardy.

“They will not shut down even if the Congress doesn’t fund the federal government,” Biden said just before he joined Federal Emergency Management officials to survey the most devastated regions via helicopter.

The official death toll rose to eight Monday after authorities recovered the body of a woman swept away by a wall of water 10 days ago.

The body of Evelyn Starner, a missing 79-year old Cedar Cove woman, was found Saturday afternoon on the bank of the Big Thompson River, according to John Schulz, Larimer County Sheriff Department's spokesman.

A huge wave of water and debris slammed into Starner’s home in the early hours of Sept. 14, the Denver Post reported. An elderly neighbor tried to pull Starner from the rising river in the darkness, but didn’t have the strength.

The woman's death is the first confirmed fatality attributed to the floods in Larimer County, Schulz said. Four fatalities were reported in Boulder County, two in El Paso County and one in Clear Creek County.

There were more than 1,200 people listed as unaccounted for when the floods began, but rescuers have successfully contacted many of the people on the list, the Associated Press reported.

Rick Wilking / Reuters

Mobile homes lie flooded in the of town of Evans, Weld County, Colorado in this September 17, 2013 file photo. The mobile home park was left in shambles and partially submerged in water where trailers were swept off their foundations by runoff from a solid week of rains that started September 9.

In Larimer County, six people are still unaccounted for, meaning no one has heard from them since Sept. 11, when the floods began.  Two other people — a 60-year-old woman from Cedar Cove and a 46-year-old man from Drake — are missing and presumed to be dead, Schulz said. 

Vice President Joe Biden is in Colorado on Monday to tour the damage that spans nearly 2,000 square miles. Biden met with Gov. John Hickenlooper in the Colorado Air National Guard hangar and will later Monday be joined by Federal Emergency Management officials to survey the most devastated regions via helicopter. 

- The Associated Press contributed to this report