Monthly Archives: September 2013

Birmingham bombing, 50 years later

The 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, was a fixture in the civil rights movement -- even more so after a bombing there on September 15, 1963, killed four girls. The 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, was a fixture in the civil rights movement -- even more so after a bombing there on September 15, 1963, killed four girls.
The young victims, seen together in black and white in the bottom center of this calendar cover, became martyrs to the movement. They are, clockwise from top left, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair. Their deaths shocked the nation and inspired lasting change.The young victims, seen together in black and white in the bottom center of this calendar cover, became martyrs to the movement. They are, clockwise from top left, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair. Their deaths shocked the nation and inspired lasting change.
The pastor of the historic church today is the Rev. Arthur Price Jr., whose Wednesday evening Bible studies draw about 40 people. The pastor of the historic church today is the Rev. Arthur Price Jr., whose Wednesday evening Bible studies draw about 40 people.
In preparation for a tour group, the faces of the four girls are projected onto the walls in the church's main sanctuary. Visitors flock to the church from all over the world to get a firsthand look at history. In preparation for a tour group, the faces of the four girls are projected onto the walls in the church's main sanctuary. Visitors flock to the church from all over the world to get a firsthand look at history.
The clock that once hung in the church's sanctuary stopped at 10:22 a.m. when the bomb planted by Ku Klux Klansmen exploded 50 years ago. It is on display in the church basement, along with photographs illustrating the tensions of the era. The clock that once hung in the church's sanctuary stopped at 10:22 a.m. when the bomb planted by Ku Klux Klansmen exploded 50 years ago. It is on display in the church basement, along with photographs illustrating the tensions of the era.
Carolyn McKinstry Maull, author of "While the World Watched," was in the church that fateful day. She lost friends and says her parents didn't talk about what happened "because there was nothing they could do about it." She also says she remained afraid for 10 years and was convinced she, too, would die in an explosion. Today she spreads a message of reconciliation.Carolyn McKinstry Maull, author of "While the World Watched," was in the church that fateful day. She lost friends and says her parents didn't talk about what happened "because there was nothing they could do about it." She also says she remained afraid for 10 years and was convinced she, too, would die in an explosion. Today she spreads a message of reconciliation.
Sarah Collins Rudolph was 12 and with the four girls in the ladies restroom when her world changed. Glass exploded into the room, piercing her chest, face and eyes (she lost one). She opens one of the many books in her living room to share a photo that was taken of her in the hospital after the blast. Sarah Collins Rudolph was 12 and with the four girls in the ladies restroom when her world changed. Glass exploded into the room, piercing her chest, face and eyes (she lost one). She opens one of the many books in her living room to share a photo that was taken of her in the hospital after the blast.
Because she didn't die that day, Sarah Collins Rudolph often feels forgotten. She holds out hope that someday she'll get restitution for her suffering and the loss of her sister. The occasional honors have been nice, but she can't help but think she deserves more. "It's not my fault I went blind." Because she didn't die that day, Sarah Collins Rudolph often feels forgotten. She holds out hope that someday she'll get restitution for her suffering and the loss of her sister. The occasional honors have been nice, but she can't help but think she deserves more. "It's not my fault I went blind."
The McNair family believes it is a duty to share their story, and for that reason they make a point of speaking to high school students who travel to the South to learn about the civil rights movement. The letters of gratitude show them that younger generations understand why the story matters. The McNair family believes it is a duty to share their story, and for that reason they make a point of speaking to high school students who travel to the South to learn about the civil rights movement. The letters of gratitude show them that younger generations understand why the story matters.
Maxine McNair, left, sits next to her daughter Kimberly McNair Brock, the younger of the two girls she had after Denise died. Kimberly was born 17 years after Denise and realizes she's spent her life being drawn to women that much older in an unconscious effort to fill a void.Maxine McNair, left, sits next to her daughter Kimberly McNair Brock, the younger of the two girls she had after Denise died. Kimberly was born 17 years after Denise and realizes she's spent her life being drawn to women that much older in an unconscious effort to fill a void.
Cynthia Wesley, one of the girls killed in the blast, got her name after being informally adopted by the Wesleys. Photos from her time with them are cherished by the sister who was similarly adopted by the couple after Cynthia was gone. Cynthia Wesley, one of the girls killed in the blast, got her name after being informally adopted by the Wesleys. Photos from her time with them are cherished by the sister who was similarly adopted by the couple after Cynthia was gone.
A biological brother of Cynthia Wesley, Fate Morris, insists she never stopped being a Morris and should be remembered by that name. Anger overcame him the day she died; he was 11 at the time. "I hated white people," he says. He and his friends went out "and threw bricks at people's cars." A biological brother of Cynthia Wesley, Fate Morris, insists she never stopped being a Morris and should be remembered by that name. Anger overcame him the day she died; he was 11 at the time. "I hated white people," he says. He and his friends went out "and threw bricks at people's cars."
Cloth flowers stand on the headstone of Carol Denise McNair, who went by her middle name. She died at 11, the youngest of the four victims; the other three were 14. Her mother says she was the sort to stand up for others. Etched into the grave marker are the words, "She loved all -- but a mad bomber hated her kind." Cloth flowers stand on the headstone of Carol Denise McNair, who went by her middle name. She died at 11, the youngest of the four victims; the other three were 14. Her mother says she was the sort to stand up for others. Etched into the grave marker are the words, "She loved all -- but a mad bomber hated her kind."
A statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands in Kelly Ingram Park (formerly West Park). He looks out over 16th Street Baptist Church. To his left, across the street from the church, is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. What happened in this city and area 50 years ago changed futures. Surviving family members of the victims and thousands of others are gathering on the anniversary to honor and remember the past. A statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands in Kelly Ingram Park (formerly West Park). He looks out over 16th Street Baptist Church. To his left, across the street from the church, is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. What happened in this city and area 50 years ago changed futures. Surviving family members of the victims and thousands of others are gathering on the anniversary to honor and remember the past.
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  • Four girls were killed in a Birmingham church bombing 50 years ago Sunday
  • Their siblings' lives were shaped by the events of that day in profoundly different ways
  • Two grew up in the shadow of a girl they never knew, another was adopted to fill a void
  • One would never move back home; another sister survived -- and struggles

Lisa McNair, sister of one of the 1963 Birmingham bombing victims, and her mother, Maxine, join "CNN Newsroom" Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) -- Fifty years have passed since a bomb stopped the old sanctuary clock in Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, locking in a moment that would change a nation.

The four girls killed in the blast have been honored as civil rights martyrs, their names etched in history books.

But what of their siblings, including one who barely survived?

For the brothers and sisters of the four girls, it was an event that would rock their foundations and shape their lives. Some would go on to promote understanding and equality. Others still struggle, fighting the past half a century later.

Scattered across three states, they share an unthinkable tragedy. But they've moved through the world and made sense of the nonsensical in profoundly different ways.

It was 10:22 a.m. on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when a stack of dynamite hidden beneath an outside staircase by Ku Klux Klansmen left a massive hole and crater in one side of the church. The blast blew out windows, filled the place with dust and debris, and destroyed a ladies restroom in the basement -- killing the four girls and injuring nearly two dozen people.

Even before the bombing, the church -- in the heart of the city's black community -- had been a backdrop to the civil rights movement. It had drawn high-profile visitors, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It became a perfect spot for meetings, sitting catty-corner from Kelly Ingram Park, a staging ground for marches. Chilling photographs of young people being attacked with fire hoses and by dogs show the church steps in the background.

A grieving relative is led away from the site of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. Four black girls were killed and at least 14 others were injured, sparking riots and a national outcry.A grieving relative is led away from the site of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. Four black girls were killed and at least 14 others were injured, sparking riots and a national outcry.
From left, 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley were killed while attending Sunday services. Three Ku Klux Klan members were later convicted of murder.From left, 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley were killed while attending Sunday services. Three Ku Klux Klan members were later convicted of murder.
Firefighters and ambulance attendants remove a body from the church.Firefighters and ambulance attendants remove a body from the church.
Cars parked beside the church were damaged by the blast.Cars parked beside the church were damaged by the blast.
The 16th Street Baptist Church served as a rallying point during the civil rights movement. It was declared a national historic landmark in 2006.The 16th Street Baptist Church served as a rallying point during the civil rights movement. It was declared a national historic landmark in 2006.
Sarah Jean Collins, 12, lost an eye in the blast. Her sister was one of the girls who died.Sarah Jean Collins, 12, lost an eye in the blast. Her sister was one of the girls who died.
Martin Luther King Jr. holds a press conference in Birmingham the day after the attack. He said the U.S. Army "ought to come to Birmingham and take over this city and run it."Martin Luther King Jr. holds a press conference in Birmingham the day after the attack. He said the U.S. Army "ought to come to Birmingham and take over this city and run it."
Family and friends of Carole Robertson attend graveside services for her in Birmingham on September 17, 1963.Family and friends of Carole Robertson attend graveside services for her in Birmingham on September 17, 1963.
A man digs a grave for one of the girls.A man digs a grave for one of the girls.
A coffin is loaded into a hearse at a funeral for the girls. An estimated 8,000 people attended the service.A coffin is loaded into a hearse at a funeral for the girls. An estimated 8,000 people attended the service.
Mourners embrace at the funeral. In his eulogy, Dr. King said, "These children -- unoffending, innocent and beautiful -- were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity."Mourners embrace at the funeral. In his eulogy, Dr. King said, "These children -- unoffending, innocent and beautiful -- were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity."
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
1963 Birmingham church bombing
Photos: 1963 Birmingham church bombingPhotos: 1963 Birmingham church bombing
50th anniversary of church bombing

Bombs in this Southern city weren't new. The nickname "Bombingham" was earned for good reason. By the time this one hit, there had been scores of unsolved -- and uninvestigated -- bombings in the city, says Carolyn Maull McKinstry, 65, who was in the church that day.

Explosions were part of life, part of the landscape, and could be heard from her family's front porch, says McKinstry, who was friends with the four girls and wrote about the bombing in "While the World Watched." Sometimes the blasts would make the earth move.

"Terrorism is not new to us," she says from a room inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, across the street from the historic church. Her community knew terrorism -- and, she adds, figures like Trayvon Martin -- long before the world did.

This attack upped the tensions and the ante. It killed innocent children in a sacred space, which helped make it the bomb heard around the world. It happened a couple weeks after the March on Washington, as those who didn't share King's dream dug in their segregationist heels.

It would be more than a decade before an ounce of justice was served. One suspect was convicted for murder and slapped with a life sentence after the case was reopened in the 1970s. Two others wouldn't pay until 2000 and 2001, after the case was reopened a second time. By then, a fourth suspect had died and would never face the court.

The bombing ignited horror and change. It was a pivotal moment that helped prod the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Killed that morning as they primped after Sunday school class were Denise McNair, 11, and Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, all 14.

They have been remembered in films, books and songs. They've been memorialized in plaques, statues and artwork. Their headstones include phrases like "martyr," "She died so freedom might live," and "She loved all -- but a mad bomber hated her kind."

Earlier this week, in the U.S. Capitol, they were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Among those accepting the honor were surviving siblings, all with stories of their own.

One pair of sisters, born after the bombing, grew up in the shadow of a figure they longed to know. Another, already grown and out of the house when she got the news, would guard her identity and never move back South.

Another sister was adopted by a victim's family to help fill a void, while that victim's biological brother still struggles to find where he fits in.

And then there's the sister who was with the four girls that day. She was horribly injured, physically and in spirit, her anger and sense of injustice still palpable.

Photos of Denise McNair, center, her parents and the sisters she never knew.
Photos of Denise McNair, center, her parents and the sisters she never knew.
Kendrick Brinson/Getty Images for CNN

In her shadow

It was surreal, weird, sometimes confusing to grow up in the shadow of an iconic, almost mythical spirit. When ladies in the community would hug them a little too tight or long, or cling to their hands and say they were praying for them, the McNair girls didn't know what to make of the attention.

They knew their sister Denise had died at their church in a bombing and that it was a significant event in history, but their parents refused to share details. Any questions they had were given one- or two-word answers. Maybe it hurt too much to talk about the past. Their father would later say he didn't want to push it in their faces.

"Relatives said Daddy didn't cry for six months, maybe a year," says Lisa, who was born a year and four days after the bombing.

"If he did, he did it where we didn't see it," says their mother.

Kimberly, born four years after Lisa, says she was 8 when the ugly truth began to come out. They were visiting their grandmother; after someone mentioned Denise, the older woman fetched and opened a mysterious box.

From inside, she pulled the chunk of concrete that had been lodged in Denise's head. Her shoes, her purse, the drops she had used that day for her allergies. Their mother sat by and cried while the girls sat spellbound and listened.

"She felt we needed to know," says Kimberly, "because it was a part of us, too."

But it wouldn't be until their parents were interviewed by Spike Lee for his Academy Award-nominated 1997 documentary, "4 Little Girls," that the McNair sisters fully understood. Everything their parents had kept to themselves came out. As Kimberly puts it, the film made Denise "three-dimensional." Their father would travel to different cities to attend the film's premieres and sob at every one of them. It was, they believe, the purge he'd so desperately needed. Now, whenever the sisters see the film, they start crying as soon as the opening credits roll.

Their mother, Maxine, was in the church's choir loft when the bomb exploded. She jumped up to try to find her daughter, not knowing she was buried in the rubble. She wouldn't see Denise again until, at the hospital, she and her husband later identified their only child's lifeless body.

"I couldn't stop screaming for several days," Maxine says. "They had to give me an injection to calm my nerves."

The couple, who had tried to have more children ever since Denise was born, came home to silence.

That they had another daughter almost exactly a year later, and then another, felt like a miracle.

Today, Lisa and Kimberly look at their mother with awe and admiration.

"No one would have blamed her if she'd crawled into bed and cried for the rest of her life," says Lisa. "Mama said a minister friend of hers told her, 'Maxine, God has a divine plan, and you just have to follow it.'"

As an evening summer storm pounds the living-room skylights in the Birmingham-area home the family shares, their rescue dog Banjo vies for lap space.

Maxine, now 85 and suffering from Alzheimer's, swats the mutt away -- "Get that thing on the floor." She closes her eyes but never stops listening. As the conversation turns to what Denise might have been, Maxine's eyes open.

"She would have been awesome," says Lisa, who remembers stories of Denise standing up for others. "A doctor or lawyer or politician."

"I think she would have left Birmingham. I just think she would have been adventurous," says Kimberly. "And I'm sure she would have given my parents the grandchildren they wanted."

"We have granddogs," says Lisa, giving Banjo a squeeze.

"You two are crazy!" Maxine howls with laughter.

Her face then turns serious for a minute as she reflects on her firstborn, a child she lost 50 years ago and one she does not forget, even as her mind fades.

"She wasn't going to let the world pass her by."

Her other daughters came of age in a time unlike Denise's. Their world was more integrated. They reaped the benefits of their sister's sacrifice.

Kimberly McNair Brock is now married, 44, and serves as their mother's primary caretaker. She's also a chef focused on holistic nutrition.

Lisa, 48, is single and works for a nonprofit that uses animals to help people heal.

While they didn't feel they had to live their lives for the sister they lost, Kimberly says she felt like she was born without anonymity -- and with eyes trained on her.

"People knew about me before I got here," she says. "You were already measured before anyone gave you an opportunity to be who you were."

She also says she has gravitated to women about 17 years her senior, the same age Denise would have been if she was still alive -- an unconscious effort to fill a void.

The sisters feel a duty to honor Denise's legacy. They participate in Sojourn to the Past, a program that teaches high school students about the civil rights movement. They are also active in a scholarship fund established in the four girls' memory -- "giving people the chance to do what they couldn't," says Lisa.

What's more, they know it's on them to speak.

For most of their adult lives, their father, Chris McNair, served as the family spokesman. But the longtime county commissioner, now 87, was convicted in 2006 for accepting bribes and then suffered a stroke. He was recently released after serving two years in a federal prison medical facility.

Along the way, Lisa and Kimberly learned to step up. What happened to their sister, to their family, is a piece of American history they must own.

Even though they never knew Denise, it is the sisters' story to tell.

Lisa and Maxine McNair, Dianne Robertson Braddock (L-R) watch the president approve posthumous medals.
Lisa and Maxine McNair, Dianne Robertson Braddock (L-R) watch the president approve honors.
Mike Theiler/Getty Images

'More of a diplomat than me'

She could have had her own room after their older brother went off to college, but Dianne Robertson chose to stay put in the bedroom she shared with her little sister, Carole. The two, five years apart, would listen to the radio at night. It was the late 1950s, and rock 'n' roll had taken hold.

"She knew all the songs," Dianne says. "'In the Still of the Night,' she really liked that one."

Outside, Carole often tagged along with Dianne and her friends. At the movie theater, the younger girl would look on in horror as Dianne and the others got into what she calls "all sorts of devilment" -- like tossing ice and popcorn from the upper balcony, where blacks were relegated, onto the white folks below. When their boyfriends would put their arms around the teenage girls, Carole would gasp and say, "I'm gonna tell Mama!"

"That's what we all remember. She was everyone's little sister," Dianne says. "We'd have to bribe her to not tell our parents."

The Robertsons, both educators, groomed their children to achieve. The family lived in a tight-knit community rich with black role models: business owners, lawyers, doctors, preachers and teachers. On Sundays, after dinner, the family would go on drives and admire the big, beautiful homes in white-only neighborhoods. Going to college and shooting for dreams was a given.

But where they came from was far from perfect. Their neighborhood in Birmingham was dubbed "Dynamite Hill" because there were so many explosions. Her parents shielded them from much of the ugliness. The kids were never allowed out at night alone. Rather than letting them take buses, where they'd feel the indignity of sitting in the back, their parents insisted on driving them.

No amount of sheltering, though, could keep them in the dark. Dianne remembers eavesdropping as her mom griped with friends. They resented spending their good money downtown and not being able to try on shoes or clothes at stores that reserved those conveniences for whites only. They knew the books their children got in their still-segregated schools paled in comparison to those given to white students.

By the summer of 1963, Dianne had two years of college in Atlanta behind her. She was pregnant with her first daughter when relatives up north helped secure her a job in a New York coat factory.

She moved in with an aunt and kept in touch with family back in Birmingham. The last letter Dianne got from her little sister came in June. Carole, who served on a church committee on racial problems, was excited because she had been chosen to represent the 16th Street Baptist Church at a youth conference. She never got to attend.

On September 15, Dianne was visiting with other family members when her aunt called.

"My aunt told me" about the bombing, "and I just kind of fainted." A bit later, she spoke to her mother. Her father, she says, was unable to talk. He'd identified Carole's body and split a door on the porch when he came home because he'd slammed it so hard. Ten years later, he would die of a massive heart attack. Dianne doesn't think he ever got over what happened to his baby girl. Her older brother remained angry and bitter until he died two years ago, she says.

"Their hearts were broken," she says. They thought they were "supposed to be the protectors, and there was nothing they could do about it."

Dianne flew to Birmingham the day after Carole died. Her parents were all business, planning the funeral for that Tuesday. Her mother picked out an outfit to match what Carole wore the day of the bombing -- a white dress and her first pair of little pumps, specially selected for the youth service that was to follow Sunday school that tragic morning. By afternoon, civil rights leaders including King and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy came to the Robertsons and asked them to reconsider their plans. They wanted them to take part in a joint funeral for all four girls scheduled one day later. Her parents chose to pass on that idea; Dianne supported their decision.

"The world was upset and hurt, but it was our family's grief," Dianne says. "There was a privacy about it that I really appreciated."

Dianne returned to New York and married the father of her child. When their daughter was born, they named her Carole. The couple, who would later have a second daughter, always assumed they'd settle in Birmingham. But after the bombing, Dianne said she never could. She enrolled in Queens College.

"It helped me a lot not to be in Birmingham or the South," she says. "In New York, I got a whole new perspective on white America. We were working together. I saw the goodness and the kindness."

For many years she told only a few close friends what happened to her sister. It was too horrific to talk about, and she didn't want anyone to think she "wore it as a badge of honor." Nothing about losing Carole felt honorable.

Now 69 and divorced, Dianne Robertson Braddock has lived for 40 years in Laurel, Maryland, where she keeps tokens of the past. The portraits of Carole that her mother kept on the family mantle are now with her. Like most of the other victims' siblings, she also has artistic renderings of the four girls.

She describes a sister who leaned toward serious, was an avid reader and clarinet player, and a proud Girl Scout who liked to show off her sash and all its badges. Carole was thoughtful and an intent listener. Even as the baby of the family, she'd mediate arguments between her older siblings.

"She would have been more of a diplomat than me," says Dianne. "She might have been a diplomat, a politician, a historian."

Diane has spent her career in education, working to improve the lives of others -- much like the women who came before her and her late sister. Their maternal grandmother, a teacher, founded the first black PTA in Birmingham. Their mother immersed herself in the voter registration movement. Dianne remembers handing out fliers as a high school student. Last June's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act makes her shudder.

She's proud of how her sister's memory is kept alive. Three learning centers in Chicago bear her name. Carole Robertson Day is observed each year by chapters of Jack and Jill of America, a national organization their mother helped lead that exists to empower youth.

Her big regret is not being able to know her sister as an adult. Back when Carole was her "bratty little sister," a five-year age gap seemed significant. Today, she knows it wouldn't have meant a thing.

Fate Morris' late sister is known as Cynthia Wesley. He wants that changed.
Fate Morris' late sister is known as Cynthia Wesley. He wants that changed.
Kendrick Brinson/Getty Images for CNN

One victim, two perspectives

Fate Morris, a 61-year-old disabled veteran, moves carefully. His speech is slightly off, the right side of his body partially paralyzed, the result of a stroke he had after open-heart surgery 10 years ago.

He was the baby in a family of eight children, being raised by a struggling single mother, when his sister Cynthia went to live with the Wesleys. She was smart and brimming with potential; the Wesleys -- both educators who couldn't have children of their own -- were able to nurture her in a way their mother couldn't.

"They fell in love with her and could send her to better schools," he says. "We missed her a lot, but we all knew it was for the best." She did come home on weekends, though, returning to the Wesleys on Sundays, he says. To him, she never stopped being a Morris.

In his mind, she was 10 or 11 when she left. As proof, he points to a portrait of her in a dress made by their mother; he says the picture was taken when Cynthia was 9. But others -- including childhood friends who only knew her as a Wesley -- have always said she was about 6. Figuring out who's right, when relatives say no formal adoption was ever processed, would be hard to do.

Memory can be a brutal weapon, and it has haunted and beaten up Fate ever since Cynthia died.

He was 11 and at home, three blocks away from the church, when he heard and felt the explosion. He came down the street to find an angry crowd, yelling at police who had gathered outside. With a 14-year-old friend, he says, he began helping remove debris.

"Someone said, 'I got another body over here,'" he remembers, as tears start to fall. "Then the last thing I heard was, 'I got a body over here, but she has no head.'"

That was Cynthia.

"I didn't know she went to 16th Street Baptist Church until the day she was found," he says.

Every day at about 4 a.m., for 50 years, Fate says he's wept remembering that moment and how he responded. He ran away. He couldn't stay. And he can't forgive himself for it.

"I wasn't there for her," he sobs in his dark-paneled home just outside Birmingham. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. My friend said 'You should've stayed,' and I didn't stay. I left her buried. Fifty years I've been living with this. ... What could I have done for her? I left her. I knew she was gone, but what bothered me is I left her."

This was a secret he kept for years. He never told his mother he was there that day.

Fate cries openly like no other surviving sibling seems to do. He guesses this is because of the guilt he says he carries. He says he never got help to deal with the emotions that overcome him. He tried, saying he met with psychiatrists, but says they didn't believe his story. He blames the ignorance of young doctors who didn't understand what was going on at that time.

Cynthia's funeral, the one that was held for three of the four girls, included a eulogy by King. Fate says his family stood near the back as the Wesleys took their place by the casket of his sister who shared their name.

"We had to virtually hold my mother up," he remembers.

As the years went on and Cynthia Wesley was mentioned in the media, he says he asked his mother if hearing that name bothered her. She told him it did. He asked if she wanted to do anything about it. She said, "No. I don't want to drag her name through the mud."

But his mother died in 1988, and Fate, who says he's the only surviving Morris sibling, helped wage battles she never did. He says he hired a lawyer to prove that Cynthia had never been adopted. He points to copies of her birth certificate and an amendment to her death certificate, certified in 2002, that lists Cynthia's birth name and birth parents.

At one point, he says, he hoped for restitution for her death, but today he believes if it was going to come, it should have happened long ago.

For now, he says, he'd be happy to see his sister's name changed to Morris in history books, on historic markers and on her grave.

"I know it would make my mother happy," he says. "And it might give me peace of mind."

Shirley Wesley King was informally adopted by the Wesleys after Cynthia died.
Shirley Wesley King was informally adopted by the Wesleys after Cynthia died.
Justin Clemons/Getty Images for CNN

Fate's struggle is one Shirley Wesley King, 63, feels compassion for, but she's been where Cynthia was and has a different view.

There's a long history of informal adoptions in the black community, she explains. That is how both she and Cynthia became Wesleys, though Shirley would join the family in 1964, after Cynthia was gone.

Shirley was the youngest in a family of four girls being raised by a single mother. Her mom, who cooked, cleaned and cared for other people's children, made her girls read all the time. Shirley devoured learning.

She desperately wanted to go to college and become a social worker, but she knew college wasn't something her mother could afford. A teacher who saw Shirley's hunger -- and knew the Wesleys -- would help make her dreams possible.

In the late fall of 1963, after the bombing, the teacher told Shirley's mother about the Wesleys and how they'd treated Cynthia as if she was their own. She explained how another child in the Wesley home might help heal their wounds, and that they had the means to support a girl with ambitions like Shirley's.

It was an interesting proposition, but Shirley's mother knew it wasn't her decision to make.

"My mother asked me what I thought about going to visit this family. I said, 'I would love to go to college,'" Shirley remembers saying. "She said, 'Well, I want you to go to college, too.'"

Her relationship with the Wesleys grew slowly. The couple first came over for a visit, bringing with them the family dog, a cockapoo named Tootsie. Over the course of months, many back-and-forth visits followed. The families got to know and respect one another. Shirley says by the time she moved in with them in April 1964, she enjoyed being part of a blended family. Her biological family lived near school, so she never stopped seeing them. But she would call the Wesleys her parents, too.

Shirley was 18 months younger than Cynthia, and though in some respects she stepped in where Cynthia left off, she never felt like she was a replacement daughter. There was no way she could be, she says. Cynthia was a "steady spirit" in the Wesley home, she says, her eyes welling. An extension of them all -- herself included.

"I could, to a degree, step into her shoes," she says, but they were different people. "She played clarinet. I did not do that. I played piano."

A large portrait of Cynthia hung above the piano Shirley practiced on every day. She slept in the twin bed that once belonged to Cynthia, and shared a bedroom with a grandmother who talked about Cynthia all the time. There were tears about the girl the Wesleys had lost, but Shirley says, "As much as they could, they wanted to focus on life."

She knows her being there helped the Wesleys cope and find some semblance of continuity. But Shirley, who now lives in Dallas, also knows she got just as much in return.

With them, her world opened up. The love the couple shared inspired her. Beyond gaining access to higher education and different circles, she developed new passions.

The Wesleys were involved with an organization that brought people of diverse faith, race, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds together. Shirley learned to not be afraid of differences, embrace the hard conversations and seek out the good.

She earned a Ph.D. in social work, taught and became an associate dean at a university. She led courses and fostered dialogues about ethics and diversity. She became active in the Southern Poverty Law Center and -- a nod to how her life was changed -- has long done work in the fields of foster care and adoption. She has trained people working in child welfare, consulted with agencies and volunteers, and advised prospective and current families. Today she helps her husband, a clinical psychologist, run a mental health and substance abuse facility.

"No matter what your loss is, you have to focus on the positive -- not the things you can't change," she says. "And you have to learn to forgive. If you hold onto anger, you end up being your worst enemy."

Addie Mae Collins died in the bombing. Her sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, survived.
Addie Mae Collins died in the bombing. Her sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, survived.
Kendrick Brinson/Getty Images for CNN

Left standing

Only one person in that church bathroom survived the blast, and that was Sarah Collins, younger sister of victim Addie Mae Collins. She was 12 at the time, the youngest in a family of eight children, and she says she remembers everything.

Sarah, dubbed "the fifth little girl," was severely injured that day and has spent much of her life feeling ignored. Sometimes she thinks the world would have cared more about her if she'd died, too.

She and Addie had skipped Sunday school that morning and were hiding in the ladies lounge in the basement. Sarah peeked out the door to see Denise, Carole and Cynthia coming their way after class ended. She scrambled back inside and went to the sink, pretending she had to wash her hands. Addie stood beside her.

The other three girls came into the lounge. They weren't in there together for more than four or five minutes, Sarah says. Denise asked Addie to tie the sash on her dress. Sarah looked over her shoulder, her hands still in the sink, and watched.

Then it hit.

BOOM!

"That sound," she says, "It's in my spirit. I still jump now. I hear that bomb in my sleep."

The room was reduced to pieces. Left behind were a seven-by-seven foot hole in the wall and a crater more than five feet wide and two feet deep, as described in Diane McWhorters's seminal book, "Carry Me Home." Remnants of the eastern wall of the basement blew to the western wall.

The window exploded. Glass flew into Sarah's eyes, face and chest. She was blinded and screamed, "Addie! Addie!" There was no response.

People have said that Sarah was found under the rubble, and that she had been in a separate room with the stalls and that's what saved her. But her memory is different. She says she never left that sink in the lounge and remained standing.

"God didn't let me fall on the floor," she says.

She was scooped up under her arms by a churchgoer and taken outside.

Later, with her 15-year-old sister Janie beside her, "I asked where Addie was. She said Addie hurt her back and was going to come visit me tomorrow," Sarah remembers. "She didn't want me to be upset." She learned the truth when she overheard Janie telling a nurse that Addie had been killed. For more than two months she remained in the hospital and cried for Addie.

She lost sight in her right eye, and would later have to have it replaced with a prosthetic. Her left eye still has a piece of glass in it, but she says it doesn't hurt. She developed glaucoma as a teenager, but thanks to the right doctor and glasses she says she sees out of it just fine.

When she got home, she says her mother was too torn up about Addie to focus on her. Instead, Janie stepped in.

Sarah's face had been peppered with glass. Another piece had lodged in her chest. Doctors removed what they could, but there was more.

"She'd pick glass from my face when it rose to the surface," Sarah says.

Strangers didn't reach out to comfort or hug her, she says. She wonders if her scarred appearance frightened them. She missed months of school, fell behind and when she came back she said one of her teachers had little patience for her.

"I was feeling like I was dead on the inside because of how I was treated," she says.

The feeling of being overlooked -- by strangers, teachers, those who might have been in a position to help her -- stuck with Sarah.

No one at home talked about the bombing.

Her family struggled. Her father, who died in 1967, bused tables in a Chinese restaurant while her mother worked as a housekeeper. Up until Addie was gone, Sarah shared a bed with three sisters -- "two at the head, and two at the feet," she says.

Sarah didn't grow up surrounded by the sorts of role models the McNair, Robertson and Wesley sisters had. Even so, she says she dreamed of becoming a nurse. Addie, who loved drawing, would have been an artist, she says.

Their mother was a committed churchgoer. They went to 16th Street Baptist Church and sang in the choir. But when it reopened about nine months later, Sarah couldn't stand being inside. While the other victims' families found comfort there, within two or three weeks Sarah's family stopped going.

She never did get counseling and thinks it's too late for that. She would later turn to alcohol and marijuana to dull the pain. Neither made her hurt less.

"I had to get saved," says Sarah, 62, who finished high school, spent years casting metal in a foundry and now is a housekeeper. "The only thing that helped me was getting closer to God," which she did in 1986.

She had two failed marriages and wasn't able to have children.

"Mama said I was never going to have kids," she says, "because I still have glass in my stomach."

On her birthday in 2000, she married George Rudolph, a man she had gone to high school with years before. He still cries when he hears her testimony.

The coffee table in their living room is littered with memorabilia. Articles from over the years, some yellowed, sit in a pile. Books about the civil rights era are in balanced stacks. She opens one to show an old black-and-white photograph of herself in a hospital bed, the bandages still covering her eyes. Amid these historical footnotes are certificates of appreciation, a key to a city, a silver cup from a university -- all meant to honor who she is.

These things, though, are mere tokens. No matter the happiness she's found with George and the salvation she found in the Lord, at times Sarah still simmers.

Legendary comedian talks to Don Lemon

She's moved through life feeling forgotten. She testified at all three murder trials, but objects to the fact that there was never a trial for the attempted murder of her.

Doug Jones, who prosecuted the last two trials, praised the significance of Sarah's testimony. But he said the statute of limitations for attempted murder had long passed by the time the state reopened the investigation in 1971.

Sarah also resents that strangers benefit from her sister's death -- scholarships are given in the four girls' names -- while she says she's gotten nothing.

"You'd think they'd do something for the living, but the dead get more, I'll tell you that," she says.

They've done nothing formally -- "Yet," she says -- but Sarah and her husband hold out hopes for restitution for the suffering she's endured and for the loss of her sister. Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and 9/11 got their due, says George -- why not her? Shoot, he adds, a bus monitor who was bullied by students came into hundreds of thousands in cash.

This is why earlier this year, she -- and Fate Morris, Cynthia Wesley's biological brother -- shunned an invitation to Washington, to be by President Barack Obama's side as he signed a bill to grant the four girls, posthumously, the Congressional Gold Medal. They wanted money, not medals, they said at the time. Months later, however, they did attend the September 10 ceremony to receive the actual medals.

There's an irony to Sarah's outlook. She feels ignored, but she doesn't like to put herself out there. When Spike Lee approached her to be in his highly acclaimed documentary about the bombing, she refused, she says, because he wouldn't pay her anything.

"That's why no one knows about me," she admits, before saying she has no regrets.

When Bern Nadette Stanis, an actress best known for her role in the TV show "Good Times," visited, saying she wanted to play the part of Sarah in a proposed stage performance about her life, Sarah took a look at the contract and refused to sign. She says it "didn't look right."

Last November, a Birmingham News article focused just on her. It is framed and featured prominently in her home.

Near it hangs something that means as much, if not more, to her. It is a large pencil drawing of the four girls, given to her at an event where she was honored, yet one more piece of art depicting what was lost. But in this one there is a fifth girl in the picture -- Sarah.

She is not in the background but instead sits front and center. And with her arm around Sarah sits Addie -- one of four girls whose deaths would spark change, touch strangers and shape the future of siblings. Though their paths may have diverged and their memories may vary, they will forever share a piece of history.

An unprecedented engineering feat

Salvage workers prepare the Costa Concordia cruise ship on August 23, 2013 at Giglio Island. <a href='http://cnn.com/2013/08/22/world/europe/costa-concordia-salvage-interactive/index.html'>The ship will be raised in September </a>near the Italian island where it still lies. The cruise liner made global headlines when it turned on its side after striking rocks on January 13, 2012. Salvage workers prepare the Costa Concordia cruise ship on August 23, 2013 at Giglio Island. The ship will be raised in September near the Italian island where it still lies. The cruise liner made global headlines when it turned on its side after striking rocks on January 13, 2012.
A general view of the cruise liner. <a href='http://cnn.com/2013/07/20/world/europe/italy-costa-concordia-trial/index.html'>Five people were convicted of multiple manslaughter and causing personal injury,</a> including the cruise ship's captain, Francesco Schettino. A general view of the cruise liner. Five people were convicted of multiple manslaughter and causing personal injury, including the cruise ship's captain, Francesco Schettino.
Salvage workers continue recovery operations at the site on June 15, 2013. Thirty-two people died in the tragedy and another 150 people were injured in the evacuation of the ship -- 65 of them seriously. Salvage workers continue recovery operations at the site on June 15, 2013. Thirty-two people died in the tragedy and another 150 people were injured in the evacuation of the ship -- 65 of them seriously.
Technicians work to salvage the half-submerged ship on July 7, 2013. Nearly 500 workers are involved in an operation to remove the wreck while protecting the marine environment.Technicians work to salvage the half-submerged ship on July 7, 2013. Nearly 500 workers are involved in an operation to remove the wreck while protecting the marine environment.
Giant hollow boxes have been attached to the side of the ship, seen on May 27, 2013. The plan is to eventually haul the vessel upright and then attempt to refloat it with the aid of the compartments.Giant hollow boxes have been attached to the side of the ship, seen on May 27, 2013. The plan is to eventually haul the vessel upright and then attempt to refloat it with the aid of the compartments.
A commemorative plaque honoring the victims of the cruise disaster is unveiled in Giglio on January 14, 2013.A commemorative plaque honoring the victims of the cruise disaster is unveiled in Giglio on January 14, 2013.
Survivors, grieving relatives and locals release lanterns into the sky in Giglio after a minute of silence on January 13, 2013, marking the one-year anniversary of the shipwreck. The 32 lanterns -- one for each of the victims -- were released at 9:45 p.m. local time, the moment of impact.Survivors, grieving relatives and locals release lanterns into the sky in Giglio after a minute of silence on January 13, 2013, marking the one-year anniversary of the shipwreck. The 32 lanterns -- one for each of the victims -- were released at 9:45 p.m. local time, the moment of impact.
A man holds an Italian flag on his balcony overlooking the port of Giglio on January 13, 2013.A man holds an Italian flag on his balcony overlooking the port of Giglio on January 13, 2013.
The sunken Costa Concordia remains in the calm blue waters on January 12, 2013, the day before the disaster's one-year anniversary.The sunken Costa Concordia remains in the calm blue waters on January 12, 2013, the day before the disaster's one-year anniversary.
A man works in front of the shipwreck on January 12, 2013.A man works in front of the shipwreck on January 12, 2013.
A couple walks along the port of Giglio at night on January 12, 2013.A couple walks along the port of Giglio at night on January 12, 2013.
A man sits in his boat in front of the half-submerged cruise ship on January 8, 2013.A man sits in his boat in front of the half-submerged cruise ship on January 8, 2013.
Cranes and floating decks surrounding the ship light up the dusk sky on January 9, 2013.Cranes and floating decks surrounding the ship light up the dusk sky on January 9, 2013.
Workers stand on the edge of the ship on January 8, 2013.Workers stand on the edge of the ship on January 8, 2013.
A crew passes by the hulking remains on January 7, 2013.A crew passes by the hulking remains on January 7, 2013.
People enjoy a day in the sun with a view of the cruise liner on July 1, 2012.People enjoy a day in the sun with a view of the cruise liner on July 1, 2012.
Technicians work during an operation to pump out 2,380 tons of fuel from the stricken ship on January 25, 2012.Technicians work during an operation to pump out 2,380 tons of fuel from the stricken ship on January 25, 2012.
Workers head toward the stricken cruise ship on January 23, 2013.Workers head toward the stricken cruise ship on January 23, 2013.
Military rescue workers approach the cruise liner on January 22, 2012.Military rescue workers approach the cruise liner on January 22, 2012.
Members of the Italian coast guard conduct a search-and-rescue mission on January 21, 2012.Members of the Italian coast guard conduct a search-and-rescue mission on January 21, 2012.
Rescue operations to search for missing people resumed on January 20, 2012, after being suspended for a third time as conditions caused the vessel to shift on the rocks.Rescue operations to search for missing people resumed on January 20, 2012, after being suspended for a third time as conditions caused the vessel to shift on the rocks.
The Costa Serena, the sister ship of the wrecked Costa Concordia, passes by on January 18, 2012.The Costa Serena, the sister ship of the wrecked Costa Concordia, passes by on January 18, 2012.
A bird flies overhead the Costa Concordia on January 18, 2012. Rescue operations were suspended as the ship slowly sank farther into the sea.A bird flies overhead the Costa Concordia on January 18, 2012. Rescue operations were suspended as the ship slowly sank farther into the sea.
The ship was sailing a few hundred meters off the rocky Tuscan coastline.The ship was sailing a few hundred meters off the rocky Tuscan coastline.
An Italian coast guard helicopter flies over Giglio's harbor on January 16, 2012.An Italian coast guard helicopter flies over Giglio's harbor on January 16, 2012.
Rescuers search the waters near the stricken ship on January 16, 2012.Rescuers search the waters near the stricken ship on January 16, 2012.
The Concordia, pictured on January 15, 2012, was on a Mediterranean cruise from Rome when it hit rocks off the coast of Giglio.The Concordia, pictured on January 15, 2012, was on a Mediterranean cruise from Rome when it hit rocks off the coast of Giglio.
Divers inspect the Costa Concordia on January 15, 2012.Divers inspect the Costa Concordia on January 15, 2012.
The ship starts keeling over early on January 14, 2012. Evacuation efforts started promptly but were made "extremely difficult" by the position of the listing ship, officials said.The ship starts keeling over early on January 14, 2012. Evacuation efforts started promptly but were made "extremely difficult" by the position of the listing ship, officials said.
Rescued passengers arrive at Porto Santo Stefano, Italy, on January 14, 2012. The Costa Concordia was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members.Rescued passengers arrive at Porto Santo Stefano, Italy, on January 14, 2012. The Costa Concordia was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members.
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  • Crews will start rotating the Costa Concordia on Monday
  • It's a massive undertaking that has never been done with such a large ship
  • The bodies of two victims are believed to be still in the wreckage
  • So are a mix of toxins that would be devastating if they leak into the water

Giglio, Italy (CNN) -- It sounds counterintuitive: in order to salvage the massive cruise ship that ran aground last year, crews will sink portions of it deeper underwater.

The rotation of the Costa Concordia cruise ship is a massive undertaking that is scheduled to start off Italy's coast at 6 a.m. Monday (12 a.m. ET).

The ship will be pulled off the seabed and rotated onto giant platforms 30 meters below the water level. Areas of the ship that have been dry for months will be submerged and filled with water.

It's a process known as "parbuckling," and it's become a household term in Giglio, the tiny island that was transformed when the Costa Concordia ran aground off its coast in January 2012.

Risky attempt to salvage Costa Concordia
2012: Divers examine Concordia wreckage
Incredible drone video of Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia survivor relives escape

A ship this large and this heavy -- weighing 114,000 tons -- has never been parbuckled before.

Normally, crews would blow up the ship or take it apart on site.

But officials say that's not an option with the Costa Concordia, because the ship is filled with toxins, and because there are two bodies still believed to be either trapped between the ship and its rocky resting place or somewhere deep in the ship's hollow hull.

What's inside of wrecked cruise ship?

Waiter, passenger still missing

The two missing victims from the cruise ship disaster, which killed 32 people, are Russel Rebello of India, and Maria Grazia Trecarichi of Sicily, Italy.

Rebello, 33, was a cruise waiter who was last seen helping passengers off the ship.

Trecarichi was on the cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday with her 17-year-old daughter, one of thousands of people who survived the deadly shipwreck. On Monday, her daughter and husband will watch crews try to rotate the ship and, hopefully, find Trecarichi's remains.

Technicians and salvage managers from all over the world will be watching closely to see what goes wrong and what works.

"It will set the new standard for maritime salvage," Giovanni Ceccarelli, the project's engineering manager, told CNN.

Hundreds of people and dozens of companies have collaborated on the preparations, but the parbuckling will come down to 12 people, including the salvage master and specialized technicians, who will be guiding the operation from inside a prefabricated control room set up on a tower on a barge in front of the ship.

A complex operation

Parbuckling the ship could be done in a day or so -- provided the weather conditions agree. So far, they seem to be, officials said on a website tracking the operation.

It's a major turning point in a salvage operation that has cost the Costa Crociere company, owned by American firm Carnival Cruises, more than $600 million -- so far.

Tall towers anchored onto the rocky shoreline between the ship and the island have been fitted with computer-operated pulley-like wheels.

As the rotation begins, the wheels will guide thick cables and chains pulling the middle third of the ship from under its belly toward Giglio island.

At the same time, more chains and cables attached to hollow boxes that have been welded onto the ship's port side will pull the ship from the top toward the open sea.

After about four to six hours, the pulleys and cables will be rendered useless as gravity takes over and the ship essentially finishes the process, relying on the buoyant boxes alone to control the speed at which it rights itself.

Technicians will pump compressed air into the boxes to control the water levels, which will create buoyancy to slow the ship's rotation until it eventually comes to rest on makeshift "mattresses" put in place on the steel platforms.

If all goes well, the ship will lift off the rocks in one piece and not separate or break apart. If things go wrong, it could be disastrous.

Has master mariner in charge of salvage met his match?

Toxins, other items onboard

The ship contains a mix of toxins that would be devastating for the environment if leaked into the water, which would happen if the ship breaks apart or sinks.

According to the Costa Concordia's inventory list published in the Italian press and confirmed by Costa, thousands of liters of thick lubricants, paints, insecticides, glue and paint thinners were on board before it set sail three hours before it crashed.

There are also 10 large tanks of oxygen and 3,929 liters of carbon dioxide.

That's not all.

Refrigerators filled with milk, cheese, eggs and vegetables have been closed tight since the disaster.

And the freezers that have not burst under the water pressure are still locked with their rotting thawed contents sealed inside, including 1,268 kilograms of chicken breasts, 8,200 kilograms of beef, 2,460 kilograms of cheese and 6,850 liters of ice cream.

What's next

As the ship rotates, much more water will enter the ship than will spill out, salvage operators say. That fresh seawater will dilute some of the toxic mix, but it will all eventually have to be purified and pumped out before the ship is towed across the sea for dismantling at its final port -- a location that remains to be determined.

In the meantime, the salvage operators have set up two rings of oil booms with absorbent sponges and skirts that extend into the water to catch any debris that may escape.

Once the ship is upright, it will be months before the contents are removed, likely not until it reaches its final port.

At that time, Costa officials say they intend to remove personal effects from the state rooms and return those to each passenger, no matter how soggy the contents might be. None of that is expected to happen before next summer.

Meanwhile, captain Francesco Schettino, who misguided the ship off course, faces charges of manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship with passengers still on board. His trial resumes in Grosseto on September 23.

A guarantee for the nervous cruiser

A turning point

Once the ship is upright, the salvage operation changes dramatically.

A tiny robotic submarine with surveillance cameras will survey the damaged side of the ship and create the models they need to plan for the next phase of operations.

"It will look like a high-impact car accident when it is lifted," Nick Sloane, the salvage master, told CNN. "It won't be pretty."

For days, salvage workers have been running simulations and testing their equipment. A steady hum of machinery out on the wreckage site could be heard night and day in Giglio harbor.

The ship looks nothing like it did months ago, when it seemed gigantic against the tiny island.

Now giant cranes, barges and generator towers dwarf the wreckage.

Success or failure, no matter what happens on Monday, the Concordia will never again look the same.

5 convicted over deadly shipwreck in Italy

1,000 wait to evacuate homes

Parked vehicles sit partially submerged near Greeley, Colorado, on Saturday, September 14. Flooding in Colorado has washed away roads and bridges and flooded homes. Authorities warned more rain was on the way, threatening more flooding. At least four people have been killed and hundreds are unaccounted for, officials say.Parked vehicles sit partially submerged near Greeley, Colorado, on Saturday, September 14. Flooding in Colorado has washed away roads and bridges and flooded homes. Authorities warned more rain was on the way, threatening more flooding. At least four people have been killed and hundreds are unaccounted for, officials say.
Brother and sister Eli and Noe Sura play in the mud around their Boulder, Colorado, home on September 14. Brother and sister Eli and Noe Sura play in the mud around their Boulder, Colorado, home on September 14.
A National Guardsman stands at South Main and Missouri streets in Longmont, Colorado, on September 14. A National Guardsman stands at South Main and Missouri streets in Longmont, Colorado, on September 14.
Flood waters swamp Longmont, Colorado, on September 14. Flood waters swamp Longmont, Colorado, on September 14.
Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded by water from the flooded Cheyenne Creek in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday, September 13.Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded by water from the flooded Cheyenne Creek in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday, September 13.
Rescue personnel search for flood victims near Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 13.Rescue personnel search for flood victims near Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 13.
Chris Rodes helps Fred Rob salvage a friend's belongings after floods left homes and infrastructure in a shambles in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13.Chris Rodes helps Fred Rob salvage a friend's belongings after floods left homes and infrastructure in a shambles in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13.
During a break in the rain, a woman walks over a footbridge past the raging Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 13. Boulder County is one of the hardest-hit areas.During a break in the rain, a woman walks over a footbridge past the raging Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 13. Boulder County is one of the hardest-hit areas.
Suzanne Sophocles hugs her dogs after they were rescued from her flooded home on September 13 in Boulder. Thousands of people stranded by the flood waters in Colorado were finally able to come down by trucks and helicopters, two days after seemingly endless rain turned normally scenic rivers and creeks into coffee-colored rapids that wrecked scores of roads and wiped out neighborhoods. Suzanne Sophocles hugs her dogs after they were rescued from her flooded home on September 13 in Boulder. Thousands of people stranded by the flood waters in Colorado were finally able to come down by trucks and helicopters, two days after seemingly endless rain turned normally scenic rivers and creeks into coffee-colored rapids that wrecked scores of roads and wiped out neighborhoods.
Residents look at the flood damage along Topaz Street in Boulder, on September 13.Residents look at the flood damage along Topaz Street in Boulder, on September 13.
Will Pitner gets rescued by emergency workers and neighbor Jeff Writer, on September 13 after he spent a night trapped outside above his home at the base of Boulder Canyon.Will Pitner gets rescued by emergency workers and neighbor Jeff Writer, on September 13 after he spent a night trapped outside above his home at the base of Boulder Canyon.
Water rushes where a bridge collapsed in a flash flood in Lyons, on September 13. Water rushes where a bridge collapsed in a flash flood in Lyons, on September 13.
A man runs through the flood waters in a yard in Boulder on September 13. A man runs through the flood waters in a yard in Boulder on September 13.
Topaz Street resident Jake Koplen stands at the edge of his driveway after the street in front of his home was washed away in Boulder on September 13.Topaz Street resident Jake Koplen stands at the edge of his driveway after the street in front of his home was washed away in Boulder on September 13.
Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns head to Boulder from the mountain community of Magnolia, Colorado, on September 13. Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns head to Boulder from the mountain community of Magnolia, Colorado, on September 13.
Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colorado, and her 5-year-old daughter Isabel take a closer look at the damaged bridge on Weld County Road 1 on September 13.Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colorado, and her 5-year-old daughter Isabel take a closer look at the damaged bridge on Weld County Road 1 on September 13.
A rubber ducky floats down Ninth Street alongside North Boulder Park in Boulder, on Thursday, September 12. A rubber ducky floats down Ninth Street alongside North Boulder Park in Boulder, on Thursday, September 12.
Highway 7 is completely blown out from the South St. Vrain River as a torrent of raging water rips through it about 12 miles west of Lyons on September 12.Highway 7 is completely blown out from the South St. Vrain River as a torrent of raging water rips through it about 12 miles west of Lyons on September 12.
A woman looks at the flooded Boulder Creek on September 12.A woman looks at the flooded Boulder Creek on September 12.
Three vehicles crashed into a creek after the road washed out from beneath them in Broomfield, Colorado, on September 12. Three people were rescued.Three vehicles crashed into a creek after the road washed out from beneath them in Broomfield, Colorado, on September 12. Three people were rescued.
Nicky Toor, 15, floats on the flooded lawn of North Boulder Park in Boulder on September 12.Nicky Toor, 15, floats on the flooded lawn of North Boulder Park in Boulder on September 12.
Joey Schusler rides through flooded Canyon Boulevard in Boulder, on September 12.Joey Schusler rides through flooded Canyon Boulevard in Boulder, on September 12.
Residents view a road washed out by a torrent of water after overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, Colorado, on September 12.Residents view a road washed out by a torrent of water after overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, Colorado, on September 12.
A city worker talks on his phone while surveying high water levels from Boulder Creek after flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colorado, on September 12.A city worker talks on his phone while surveying high water levels from Boulder Creek after flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colorado, on September 12.
Flash flood waters rush over a walking path in downtown Boulder on September 12.Flash flood waters rush over a walking path in downtown Boulder on September 12.
A police officer blocks off a road in Boulder on September 12.A police officer blocks off a road in Boulder on September 12.
A man walks past the swelled Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 12.A man walks past the swelled Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 12.
People stand at the edge of floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.People stand at the edge of floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.
A dive rescue team moves toward floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.A dive rescue team moves toward floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.
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  • NEW: Official: Clouds could hamper rescue efforts
  • Boulder spared Saturday evening but faces rain Sunday
  • Sheriff says authorities should be "realistic" about the chances the death toll will rise
  • Missing woman is presumed dead, in addition to four confirmed dead

Are you there? Share photos and video if you can do so safely.

Boulder, Colorado (CNN) -- Colorado residents are keeping a wary eye on the sky as more rain is forecast for Sunday. As dawn broke, officials worried about continued rescue operations.

"We're going to be in for some steady rain over the next 12 hours," said Kim Kobel, a spokesperson for Boulder's Office of Emergency Management. It shouldn't total more than 1 to 2 inches though. "So that's the good news," Kobel said.

Still, authorities worry that any additional water on ground that's already soaked by up to 15 inches of rain will cause more flooding and dislodge mud and debris. Also, the omnipresent clouds pose a problem for aerial rescue efforts. "It's unlikely at this point that we'll be able to reach those who are stranded in the hard-to-reach areas," Kobel said.

Hundreds unaccounted for

At least four deaths have been blamed on the flooding, and a fifth person is presumed dead. More than 500 were unaccounted for, although authorities cautioned that designation included people who simply have not yet contacted concerned relatives elsewhere.

Members of the Colorado National Guard help Boulder County authorities evacuate residents of Lyons, Colorado, to Longmont, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding has hit the area hard, washing out roads, damaging bridges and destroying homes. Members of the Colorado National Guard help Boulder County authorities evacuate residents of Lyons, Colorado, to Longmont, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding has hit the area hard, washing out roads, damaging bridges and destroying homes.
The guardsmen are using Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, or LMTVs, which can transport about 16 people with luggage, to assist the evacuation. The LMTVs can navigate through rubble and flooded areas that otherwise could not be reached by rescue personnel. The guardsmen are using Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, or LMTVs, which can transport about 16 people with luggage, to assist the evacuation. The LMTVs can navigate through rubble and flooded areas that otherwise could not be reached by rescue personnel.
Dick and LaRue Vodime, temporary residents of Lyons, witness some of the destruction from the floods as they are evacuated to Longmont on September 13. Dick and LaRue Vodime, temporary residents of Lyons, witness some of the destruction from the floods as they are evacuated to Longmont on September 13.
Colorado Army National Guard Sgt. David Wilson carries Ezra Villa while escorting Thomas Walter and Melinda Villa to the flood evacuation area in Lyons on September 13.Colorado Army National Guard Sgt. David Wilson carries Ezra Villa while escorting Thomas Walter and Melinda Villa to the flood evacuation area in Lyons on September 13.
Residents ride in the back of an LMTV while being evacuated to Longmont on September 13. Residents ride in the back of an LMTV while being evacuated to Longmont on September 13.
A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter takes off from the the Boulder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13.A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter takes off from the the Boulder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13.
Guardsmen help residents and their pets off a Colorado National Guard Chinook helicopter at the Boulder Municipal Airport on September 13. Guardsmen help residents and their pets off a Colorado National Guard Chinook helicopter at the Boulder Municipal Airport on September 13.
Colorado National Guardsmen assist residents in unincorporated areas of Boulder County, Colorado. Residents were evacuating the area on Thursday, September 12. Colorado National Guardsmen assist residents in unincorporated areas of Boulder County, Colorado. Residents were evacuating the area on Thursday, September 12.
The guardsmen brought in high-clearance vehicles to take people out of the flooded areas. The guardsmen brought in high-clearance vehicles to take people out of the flooded areas.
People, as well as pets, were loaded onto National Guard vehicles.People, as well as pets, were loaded onto National Guard vehicles.
The rains sent virtually every waterway in Boulder County coursing out of its banks, and massive water flows washed away roads and bridges, flooded homes and stressed numerous other bridges.The rains sent virtually every waterway in Boulder County coursing out of its banks, and massive water flows washed away roads and bridges, flooded homes and stressed numerous other bridges.
Authorities reported between 25 and 30 roads were closed as of Thursday afternoon in Boulder County. Some of them had been washed out entirely. Authorities reported between 25 and 30 roads were closed as of Thursday afternoon in Boulder County. Some of them had been washed out entirely.
Friday's forecast calls for three more days of rain for the area. Friday's forecast calls for three more days of rain for the area.
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
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National Guard evacuates flood victimsNational Guard evacuates flood victims
Colorado residents battle flooding
Floods pose threat for first responders
Colorado flooding turns deadly

Elected officials were looking past the crisis to plan the recovery.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he spoke by phone with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who "was adamant that the $5 million that was released Friday was just the beginning" of federal assistance.

"We're going to come back and rebuild better than it was before," the governor said.

Hickenlooper said experts from Vermont will arrive next week to share lessons about improved road-building learned in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Damage worth millions

Boulder County alone will need an estimated $150 million to repair 100 to 150 miles of roadway and 20 to 30 bridges, county transportation director George Gerstle said. The repair bill will be "10 to 15 times our annual budget," he said.

A helicopter surveillance mission Saturday carrying Hickenlooper and members of Colorado's congressional delegation was diverted twice to pick up people waving to be rescued.

After the officials' delayed arrival at a Boulder airport, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall promised a bipartisan push in Congress for federal aid for flood recovery. "That dog and the cat and those seven people on those two helicopters didn't ask us whether we were Democrats or Republicans," Udall said.

President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration for Colorado on Sunday and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Boulder County.

More rain

Some storms appeared Saturday slightly east of the most flood-damaged areas, pounding southeast Denver with 1.73 inches of rain in less than 30 minutes.

But skies were clear for much of the day elsewhere, allowing rescues and a more complete count of those not yet located.

The Larimer County sheriff's office said that about 350 people were unaccounted for in the county. That number jumped sharply Saturday afternoon as rescuers reached more empty homes, even though authorities believe those residents got to safety.

In neighboring Boulder County, 231 people were on the "unaccounted for" list as of 7 p.m., said Gabrielle Boerkircher, spokeswoman for the county Office of Emergency Management. She said that number was fluctuating as some people were found safe even as the county received new requests to locate people.

Death toll may rise

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said authorities have to be "realistic" about the chances that the death toll will rise as rescuers penetrate farther into isolated areas.

No new deaths were confirmed Saturday, but Larimer County officials said a 60-year-old woman was presumed dead after witnesses saw her being swept away by floodwaters that demolished her home. Neighbors tried unsuccessfully to rescue the woman, said Nick Christensen, executive officer of the sheriff's office. Her body had not been recovered.

Teens swept away

The four confirmed deaths included a man and a woman, both 19, who were swept away after leaving their car Thursday in Boulder County. Authorities said the woman left the car first, and the man jumped out to try to save her. Authorities recovered both bodies.

Another body was found in a collapsed home in Jamestown in the same county. Rescuers recovered another body on a roadway in Colorado Springs in El Paso County.

CNN's David Simpson reported and wrote from Atlanta; Nick Valencia reported from Longmont, Colorado. George Howell reported from Boulder. Ana Cabrera reported from Lyons. CNN's Jack Hannah, Janet DiGiacomo, John Branch and Emma Lacey-Bordeaux contributed to this report.

Kanye West charged with battery

Own this amazing doomsday bunker

Fake grass has come a long way since the '70s. Sadly, David Cassidy has not.Fake grass has come a long way since the '70s. Sadly, David Cassidy has not.
"Remember, kids, wait 30 minutes before swimming in the pool without water.""Remember, kids, wait 30 minutes before swimming in the pool without water."
Think of all the fun you won't be having in this spacious living room!Think of all the fun you won't be having in this spacious living room!
When the fountain is filled up and working, why, you really do feel like you are in a dank underground basement next to a fountain that's filled up and working.When the fountain is filled up and working, why, you really do feel like you are in a dank underground basement next to a fountain that's filled up and working.
Behold -- a tasteful, white, wrought-iron archway. What a delightful place to slowly go insane.Behold -- a tasteful, white, wrought-iron archway. What a delightful place to slowly go insane.
You really haven't lived until you've evacuated into a pink toilet. It's so choice.You really haven't lived until you've evacuated into a pink toilet. It's so choice.
Just think of all the canned foods you can heat up in this luxury kitchen!Just think of all the canned foods you can heat up in this luxury kitchen!
The loneliest bar in the world: "You set 'em up, and I'll knock 'em back, Lloyd. One by one."The loneliest bar in the world: "You set 'em up, and I'll knock 'em back, Lloyd. One by one."
"Let's see what's on TV during the apocalypse ... oh, good, nothing. This is all working out swimmingly.""Let's see what's on TV during the apocalypse ... oh, good, nothing. This is all working out swimmingly."
This giant boulder opens up into a grill. "Why didn't our friends show up for the barbecue?" "Jim, they're all dead. Remember?"This giant boulder opens up into a grill. "Why didn't our friends show up for the barbecue?" "Jim, they're all dead. Remember?"
From the outside it looks just like another Las Vegas real estate disaster. But down below there's 15,000 square feet of nothing to do. Good times!From the outside it looks just like another Las Vegas real estate disaster. But down below there's 15,000 square feet of nothing to do. Good times!
  • The 70's-style Las Vegas doomsday bunker was built during the height of the Cold War
  • Twenty-six feet underground, the bunker feels like you are actually outside
  • The bunker is now being sold as a foreclosure for $1.75 million

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

(CNN) -- When the apocalypse comes, I'm pretty sure I can get by for a while on Diet Coke and Klondike Bars.

Pants won't be necessary.

But if we're talking about real long-term survival, no matter what horrible hell eventually strikes down upon us -- be it zombies or fire from the skies -- I'm pretty much a sitting duck.

\
"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

My little craftsman-style bungalow isn't exactly a fortress.

Conversely, this week the Internet started buzzing about what appears to be the ultimate doomsday bunker that recently went up for sale in Las Vegas for $1.75 million. Of course, the bunker comes along with a proper above-ground house. But the real draw is the amazing subterranean hideaway that's 26 feet below.

A wealthy entrepreneur names Jerry Henderson built the compound back in 1978 -- right during the middle of the Cold War. Fearing that the Soviets might drop some sort of Earth-flattening nuke (or maybe just a really aggressive bear on a unicycle) Henderson created his grand survival plan with all the must-have comforts of home.

Well, almost. There doesn't appear to be a giant ball-pit filled with hamsters.

Don't judge. You have your comforts. I have mine.

That said, it pretty much has everything else you'd want if you were to live beneath the dirt. And it's not just a tiny space to move and breathe -- we're talking 15,000 square feet of basement with a pool, two Jacuzzis, a sauna, and a four-hole putting green. It's all decorated to feel like you're in a real house or in a real backyard. Hell, it even has a dance floor.

"Everyone we know is dead. Let's Dougie!"

The actual living space within the basement is a complete two-bedroom house with exterior walls and a front a door. It kind of looks like it came from The Brady Bunch, and measures 5,000 square feet. Which is huge! And not just for a doomsday bunker.

For the sake of comparison, my entire home in Atlanta is only 1,500 square feet. And it's not nearly as pimped out as Henderson's bunker.

What can I say? The paper vase filled with multi-colored sticks from IKEA seemed wild and exciting at the time.

Meanwhile, at the '70s-retro bunker in Vegas, one can relax around the fake property amidst murals of nature, just as if you were actually outside. And to enhance the mood, you can adjust the lights and ceiling stars to simulate different times of day. The switches are labeled for sunset, day, dusk and night.

The most advanced switch in my house turns on the garbage disposal.

Over the years, the home-and-bunker combo at 3970 Spencer Street has gone through different owners since Jerry Henderson first built it. The most recent occupant bought the property back in 2005 for $2 million.

However, last summer Seaway Bank and Trust Co. foreclosed on the home, and now they're trying to sell it off -- presumably to someone who seeks safety at the end of the world, but doesn't mind living in what, otherwise, seems like a rather drab part of town.

Also known as metro Las Vegas.

Mind you, there's nothing overly horrible about the location -- it's conveniently close to downtown if you need it -- but a little stroll around the block using Google street view reveals that the neighborhood is kind of boring, and the house actually faces an ugly office building and a bunch of power lines.

On the plus side, I did locate a 7-Eleven less than a mile away. And, in a pinch, those delicious spinning meat tubes at the counter should be able to withstand the apocalypse for at least a decade or two.

"Son, distract the zombies. I'm sending your mother out for more taquitos."

Though I'm sure he didn't consider proximity to convenience stores, Henderson was, nevertheless, a big believer in underground living in general. Before his Vegas compound, he lived in a similar-style home in the '60s near Boulder, Colorado.

Eventually, he even co-founded Underground World Home Corporation to build these subterranean dwellings for others, and he presented the idea at the 1964 World's Fair in New York with the slogan: How would you like sunshine every day... when you want it?

Of course, we all do. That's why we have Prozac and whiskey.

But if you fear the end of days and want to enjoy your final hours in a weird underground time capsule from the '70s, all this can be yours.

Or you can just hunker down with me.

You'll love my garbage disposal.

Follow Jarrett Bellini on Twitter.

Greene: How to live forever

Van Gogh Museum director Axel Ruger, and senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh, right, unveil the newly discovered painting by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh during a press conference at the museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday September 9, 2013.Van Gogh Museum director Axel Ruger, and senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh, right, unveil the newly discovered painting by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh during a press conference at the museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday September 9, 2013.
The discovery is the first full size canvas that has been found since 1928 and will be on display from September 24.The discovery is the first full size canvas that has been found since 1928 and will be on display from September 24.
The "Sunset at Montmajour" was painted in 1888. The museum has identified the painting after "extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh's letters and the provenance."The "Sunset at Montmajour" was painted in 1888. The museum has identified the painting after "extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh's letters and the provenance."
  • Bob Greene: Discovery of Van Gogh painting points up immortality of the artist
  • He says Van Gogh struggled with his art--and depression--died young, but art endured
  • He says art in all its forms is like message in a bottle, sent from the mind of artist to the ages
  • Greene: Art, whether Phil Everly or van Gogh, keeps artist's perceptions alive

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story"; "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War"; and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

(CNN) -- If you're good enough at what you do, it is possible to live forever.

That's a lesson to be drawn from the news out of Amsterdam last week. A painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, which was previously believed to be a forgery, has been authenticated. "Sunset at Montmajour," a landscape painted by van Gogh in 1888, has been painstakingly studied by experts at the Van Gogh Museum, using sophisticated chemical-and-technological analysis. Their conclusion: It's the real thing.

It is said to be the first full-sized canvas by van Gogh to be found in 85 years. In the past, paintings by van Gogh have sold for tens of millions of dollars apiece.

Bob Greene

He has been dead since 1890, when, in one of many moments of despair, he took his own life. He was only 37. Even before he entered the world, there were omens that his might not be a conventional existence. On March 30, 1852, Vincent van Gogh was stillborn in the Netherlands. That was his older brother. A year later -- to the day -- a second child was born. This child, too, was given the name Vincent. He would be the boy who grew into an artist.

He left school at 15. He worked as an art dealer, a clergyman and a bookseller. He never found material success. He battled depression and deep loneliness. His mental health deteriorated. He famously mutilated his left ear; he was confined to an asylum. His attacks of anxiety and bottomless melancholy kept him in his room for months at a time. His brother Theo would write that, very near the end, Vincent said to him: "The sadness will last forever."

Yet what has lasted forever is his brilliance. Because of his artistry, van Gogh has proved to be immortal. He has been gone for more than a century, and we are talking about him today, studying every detail of his work, trying to decipher what it was he was trying to say on his canvases.

Making art, in any of its myriad forms -- music, literature, drama and beyond -- is like sending messages out in bottles. The artists, on the days they drop the bottles into the water, can have no idea where they will end up, or who will find them.

You don't have to be an aficionado of fine art to walk into a public gallery, stand before a painting done by someone long dead, and think: One day, many generations ago, whoever created this work decided that this tiny brushstroke here would be preferable to another, subtly different one; that this shade of red in this corner was the ideal one, instead of a shade more vivid or more muted; that the shadows over on this side of the canvas were what was needed to set the proper mood. And now, all these years later, a stranger standing in front of the painting in a town the artist never visited is thinking about the mind behind those choices.

Vincent van Gogh's lost painting
Watch 7,000 dominoes fall to create art

Walk into a public library. Pull a book from any shelf. The book can be by an acclaimed author -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, the wonderful writer of Westerns Dorothy M. Johnson, Philip Roth -- or by an author with whose work you are unfamiliar. Flip through the book until you find a paragraph that strikes you as being especially beautifully constructed, a paragraph you immediately esteem.

Linger over it, and consider: This writer chose to put this comma here for a reason, for the desired rhythm and cadence; discerned that this particular combination of words would be most pleasing to the eye and ear of a reader; pondered, at least momentarily, whether a semicolon was the right way to break a thought, or whether a period followed by the start of a new sentence would serve a reader more gracefully. The writer, on that day, may not have known whether his or her book would ever be published. Maybe the book has sat on this library shelf for years without anyone coming along to free it from its hardbound neighbors.

But on this day, someone -- you -- has, in fact, come along, and is thinking about what the writer may have been thinking, alone at a typewriter or with a fountain pen poised over a clean sheet of paper, so many years ago. That message in a bottle: The writer is alive again -- alive still. The work, suddenly, is new once more.

This is artistry's payoff, its greatest reward. During the summer, the singer Phil Everly spoke about an antebellum house that he and his wife had renovated and repaired in Maury County, Tennessee. Everly, 74, told Marc Myers of the Wall Street Journal that "The house makes me feel kind of solid. I like things that are way older than I am and are going to outlast me."

But he is being too modest. The house is not going to outlast the music of the Everly Brothers; eventually and inevitably the house will fall apart or be torn down. The songs that Phil and Don Everly recorded, though, with their gorgeously blended voices, will never die. The brothers themselves, like all artists, will leave this earth, but the harmonies they created will go on and on.

Immortality: Now that van Gogh's "Sunset at Montmajour" has been discovered and authenticated for the world to see, his every artistic choice that reveals itself on the canvas will be peered at and discussed for centuries to come, by admirers hoping to glean further insights into the man he was.

He painted more than 800 canvases and did more than 1,000 drawings and watercolors.

He went to his grave a pauper, knowing that, for all his talent and heart and inspiration, he had been able, in his lifetime, to sell only one painting.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

Rescued fighting dogs get some TLC

This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.This puppy was one of 372 dogs rescued in what authorities say was the second largest dog fighting ring in the United States. It was a multistate raid that took place in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas and led to the arrest of 12 people.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals converted an air-conditioned warehouse into a temporary shelter to care for 253 of the dogs. Many of the puppies were found in 90-degree heat with no water and attached to chains twice their weight.The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals converted an air-conditioned warehouse into a temporary shelter to care for 253 of the dogs. Many of the puppies were found in 90-degree heat with no water and attached to chains twice their weight.
"He clearly hasn't been well cared for," says ASPCA Medical Director Dr. Sarah Kirk. "His body condition score is probably 2 out of 9. Since arriving in the shelter this dog has been dewormed and given medicine for fleas and to manage pain."He clearly hasn't been well cared for," says ASPCA Medical Director Dr. Sarah Kirk. "His body condition score is probably 2 out of 9. Since arriving in the shelter this dog has been dewormed and given medicine for fleas and to manage pain.
Shelter workers have identified six pregnant dogs, but based on experience they expect to find anywhere between five to 10 more to be pregnant.Shelter workers have identified six pregnant dogs, but based on experience they expect to find anywhere between five to 10 more to be pregnant.
A special area has been set up for the pregnant dogs and those that are nursing their puppies. A special area has been set up for the pregnant dogs and those that are nursing their puppies.
The dogs are under quarantine, isolated in their cages and kept indoors until the ASPCA medical team can confirm they are free from disease.The dogs are under quarantine, isolated in their cages and kept indoors until the ASPCA medical team can confirm they are free from disease.
This black pit bull mix panics at the sight of a person. His ears stand straight up and he cowers in the corner of his cage as his body trembles. The sign on his cage says., "I¹m FEARLFUL, please go slowly.This black pit bull mix panics at the sight of a person. His ears stand straight up and he cowers in the corner of his cage as his body trembles. The sign on his cage says., "I¹m FEARLFUL, please go slowly.
The dogs are taken out of their cage for about 45 minutes a day to exercise. In addition to physical exercise, they try to stimulate the dogs mentally by hiding their food in these red puzzle toys.The dogs are taken out of their cage for about 45 minutes a day to exercise. In addition to physical exercise, they try to stimulate the dogs mentally by hiding their food in these red puzzle toys.
  • Last month, authorities broke up the nation's second largest dogfighting ring
  • More than 370 dogs were transferred to animal welfare groups
  • One of those groups, the ASPCA, is rehabilitating the dogs, both physically and mentally
  • CNN got exclusive access to the ASPCA's rehab center

(CNN) -- The tiny puppy with the white and brown fur doesn't have a name yet, just a number: 917.

When he was found, the 8-week-old puppy weighed less than five pounds and had been left in the scorching sun, wearing a chain around his neck that weighed four times as much as he did.

He is one of 371 dogs seized by federal and state authorities last month in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas in what authorities say was the second largest dogfighting ring in the United States.

Normally, dogfighters wait until the canines are at least half a year old before they chain them and expose them to extreme heat or cold as part of a brutal program to transform the dogs into fighters, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals CEO Matt Bershadker.

Rescued dogfighting pups get TLC

This puppy was one of several "8- and 10-week-old puppies on heavy, heavy long chains" found during last month's raids, according to Bershadker. ASPCA investigators were present during the raids.

"What we saw on this property brought even our hardened investigators to their knees, so to speak," he said.

The dogs were placed in the temporary care of the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. More than 250 of them -- including puppy No. 917 -- were brought to a converted air-conditioned warehouse, where the ASPCA is caring for them. The others are in the care of the Humane Society.

367 dogs rescued in dogfighting bust
Dog alerts family to nanny's abuse
Pit bull adopts goat as puppy

This month, CNN was granted exclusive access to the ASPCA's rehabilitation of the former fighting dogs. CNN is not disclosing the location of the rehabilitation center for security reasons.

Not only are the dogs getting medical treatment for malnourishment and injuries sustained in fighting, Bershadker said the canines also are getting "a personal behavior modification enrichment plan to maximize each dog's opportunity to be placed in a home."

The goal is to turn these fighting dogs into animals that can be pets or work as rescue and rehabilitation animals.

"What we will do is go to each dog individually and assess their strengths and their weaknesses," said Bershadker.

Fighting scars

If he hadn't been rescued, 917 and the other puppies would have likely become typical dogs bred to fight. Some of those fights, prosecutors say, brought in as much as $200,000.

Getting the animal into top physical condition is often the priority for those who train fighting dogs, and that usually begins with a few months lifting a heavy chain.

Next the dog is put in "the keep," an intensive training program before its first fight. When deemed ready, the dogs will be put into the "fighting pit" -- either in a test fight or "the show," a fight in front of spectators.

"Those fights can last 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, even three hours," Bershadker said "That's where the physical wounds are sustained."

Although 917 was too young to sustain injuries and scars from a fight, many of the other canines seized in last month's raid show evidence of being in a fighting pit.

At the ASPCA shelter, Dr. Sarah Kirk conducts an examination on one of the rescued dog. On the table is a dog so skinny that his ribs and vertebrae are visible through his fur.

"He clearly hasn't been well cared for," she said. "His body condition score is probably 2 out of 9."

The cuts, scars and large tumor on his paw suggest a very hard 10 years for this animal, which likely made more than one appearance in the fighting pit.

Since arriving in the shelter, the dog has been dewormed and given medicine for fleas and to manage his pain. The prognosis is good: Kirk said she believes with the proper care this dog will have a good quality of life.

Raiding the dogfighting ring

Last month's raid on the dogfighting ring started with a sliver of information.

"In 2010 we got a tip from a drug defendant that there were high-stakes dogfighting going on in Lee County, Alabama," said Clark Morris, a federal prosecutor in Alabama.

That led to an investigation in Alabama that turned up more evidence of dogfighting in nearby states. Authorities executed 13 warrants in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas, which led to 12 arrests.

Those arrested have since entered pleas of not guilty to a variety of federal charges, including conspiracy to promote and sponsor dogfights and conducting a gambling business.

"These defendants were gambling anywhere from between $1,500 to $200,000 on one dogfight, according to our investigation," said Morris, who is prosecuting the case.

If convicted the defendants face up to 15 years in prison. A trial is scheduled for February.

The government plans to forfeit the rights to the dogs and Morris hopes that permanent custody will go to the organizations that are currently caring for them.

"As much as I would love to parade these horribly scared dogs through the courtroom at trial I don't think any judge is going to let me, so I am not going to need the physical dogs," Morris said.

Healing mental wounds

The once empty ASPCA shelter is now lined with rows upon rows of cages that contain a variety of dogs of all ages. A walk past the cages will prompt some dogs to incessantly bark, others to jump up and down.

The most dramatic reaction is from a black pit bull mix that appears to panic at the sight of a person. His ears stand straight up and he cowers in the corner of his cage as his body trembles.

"Understand that these dogs have experienced nothing but life at the end of a chain," Bershadker explained. "Even a water bowl is new for them ... they are afraid of everything."

To emphasize his point, a sign that reads "I'm FEARFUL, please go slowly" hangs on one dog's cage.

Certified dog trainer Cinder Wilkinson-Kenner moves slowly as she works to gain the trust of an older dog that also has been labeled fearful.

She is on her knees in a pen reserved for training and she has the dog on a leash. In a friendly yet calm and quiet voice, Wilkinson-Kenner repeats the phrase "good girl, good girl" while throwing treats near the animal.

After a few minutes she asks the dog, "Ready to come close?" and she holds out an open hand with a treat in it.

The dog takes the treat and Wilkinson-Kenner gives the dog a break by throwing the next treat away from her to reduce the animal's anxiety from being so close to a human.

The ASPCA is doing all it can to rehabilitate these dogs so they can eventually be given to organizations that will either find them a home as a pet, train them as work dogs, or put them in alternative placements such as a sanctuary.

Maybe one day, the dogs, like 917, can have real names instead of numbers.

"A lot of people have this misperception of fighting dogs being big brutish pit bulls that are killers," said Ehren Melius, the shelter's senior manager, who spends all day with the dogs. "In reality, some of these guys are traumatized from the experience they've been through from lack of socialization, the torture."

While these dogs may have been saved from a life a torture, the ASPCA estimates there are more than 40,000 dogfighters in the United States who are putting hundreds of thousands of animals through the brutal training to become fighting dogs.

"This may be the second largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history, but it's a drop in the bucket," said Bershadker. "This is going on all over the United States across socioeconomic lines, across racial lines, it is prevalent, it is pervasive, it is deep underground."

CNN's Gary Tuchman and Dominic Swann contributed to this report.

Sheriff: Tonight’s rains could be ‘devastating’

Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded by water from the flooded Cheyenne Creek in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding in Colorado has washed away roads and bridges and flooded homes. Authorities warned more rain was on the way, threatening more flooding. At least four people have been killed and 218 are unaccounted for, officials say.Dave Jackson closes a mailbox with his foot after delivering the mail to a home surrounded by water from the flooded Cheyenne Creek in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding in Colorado has washed away roads and bridges and flooded homes. Authorities warned more rain was on the way, threatening more flooding. At least four people have been killed and 218 are unaccounted for, officials say.
Rescue personnel search for flood victims near Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 13.Rescue personnel search for flood victims near Fort Collins, Colorado, on September 13.
Chris Rodes helps Fred Rob salvage a friend's belongings after floods left homes and infrastructure in a shambles in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13.Chris Rodes helps Fred Rob salvage a friend's belongings after floods left homes and infrastructure in a shambles in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13.
During a break in the rain, a woman walks over a footbridge past the raging Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 13. Boulder County is one of the hardest-hit areas.During a break in the rain, a woman walks over a footbridge past the raging Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 13. Boulder County is one of the hardest-hit areas.
Suzanne Sophocles hugs her dogs after they were rescued from her flooded home on September 13 in Boulder. Thousands of people stranded by the flood waters in Colorado were finally able to come down by trucks and helicopters, two days after seemingly endless rain turned normally scenic rivers and creeks into coffee-colored rapids that wrecked scores of roads and wiped out neighborhoods. Suzanne Sophocles hugs her dogs after they were rescued from her flooded home on September 13 in Boulder. Thousands of people stranded by the flood waters in Colorado were finally able to come down by trucks and helicopters, two days after seemingly endless rain turned normally scenic rivers and creeks into coffee-colored rapids that wrecked scores of roads and wiped out neighborhoods.
Residents look at the flood damage along Topaz Street in Boulder, on September 13.Residents look at the flood damage along Topaz Street in Boulder, on September 13.
Will Pitner gets rescued by emergency workers and neighbor Jeff Writer, on September 13 after he spent a night trapped outside above his home at the base of Boulder Canyon.Will Pitner gets rescued by emergency workers and neighbor Jeff Writer, on September 13 after he spent a night trapped outside above his home at the base of Boulder Canyon.
Water rushes where a bridge collapsed in a flash flood in Lyons, on September 13. Water rushes where a bridge collapsed in a flash flood in Lyons, on September 13.
A man runs through the flood waters in a yard in Boulder on September 13. A man runs through the flood waters in a yard in Boulder on September 13.
Topaz Street resident Jake Koplen stands at the edge of his driveway after the street in front of his home was washed away in Boulder on September 13.Topaz Street resident Jake Koplen stands at the edge of his driveway after the street in front of his home was washed away in Boulder on September 13.
Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns head to Boulder from the mountain community of Magnolia, Colorado, on September 13. Brother and sister Patrick Tinsley and Mary Kerns head to Boulder from the mountain community of Magnolia, Colorado, on September 13.
Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colorado, and her 5-year-old daughter Isabel take a closer look at the damaged bridge on Weld County Road 1 on September 13.Samantha Kinzig of Longmont, Colorado, and her 5-year-old daughter Isabel take a closer look at the damaged bridge on Weld County Road 1 on September 13.
A rubber ducky floats down Ninth Street alongside North Boulder Park in Boulder, on Thursday, September 12. A rubber ducky floats down Ninth Street alongside North Boulder Park in Boulder, on Thursday, September 12.
Highway 7 is completely blown out from the South St. Vrain River as a torrent of raging water rips through it about 12 miles west of Lyons on September 12.Highway 7 is completely blown out from the South St. Vrain River as a torrent of raging water rips through it about 12 miles west of Lyons on September 12.
A woman looks at the flooded Boulder Creek on September 12.A woman looks at the flooded Boulder Creek on September 12.
Three vehicles crashed into a creek after the road washed out from beneath them in Broomfield, Colorado, on September 12. Three people were rescued.Three vehicles crashed into a creek after the road washed out from beneath them in Broomfield, Colorado, on September 12. Three people were rescued.
Nicky Toor, 15, floats on the flooded lawn of North Boulder Park in Boulder on September 12.Nicky Toor, 15, floats on the flooded lawn of North Boulder Park in Boulder on September 12.
Joey Schusler rides through flooded Canyon Boulevard in Boulder, on September 12.Joey Schusler rides through flooded Canyon Boulevard in Boulder, on September 12.
Residents view a road washed out by a torrent of water after overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, Colorado, on September 12.Residents view a road washed out by a torrent of water after overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, Colorado, on September 12.
A city worker talks on his phone while surveying high water levels from Boulder Creek after flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colorado, on September 12.A city worker talks on his phone while surveying high water levels from Boulder Creek after flash flooding in downtown Boulder, Colorado, on September 12.
Flash flood waters rush over a walking path in downtown Boulder on September 12.Flash flood waters rush over a walking path in downtown Boulder on September 12.
A police officer blocks off a road in Boulder on September 12.A police officer blocks off a road in Boulder on September 12.
A man walks past the swelled Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 12.A man walks past the swelled Boulder Creek in Boulder on September 12.
People stand at the edge of floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.People stand at the edge of floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.
A dive rescue team moves toward floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.A dive rescue team moves toward floodwaters in Boulder on September 12.
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  • NEW: 350 "unaccounted for" in Larimer County, 172 in Boulder County
  • NEW: Governor promises to rebuild "better than it was before"
  • Missing woman is presumed dead, in addition to four confirmed dead
  • Storms resume, 1.73 inches of rain in 30 minutes in Denver

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Boulder, Colorado (CNN) -- Heavy storms returned to northeastern Colorado on Saturday as rescuers scrambled to take advantage of breaks in the weather to continue reaching stranded residents.

The National Weather Service issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of Arapahoe and Adams counties and eastern Denver. The service said 1.73 inches of rain fell in less than 30 minutes at one spot in southeastern Denver.

The warning areas are southeast of the counties most heavily flooded earlier, but the weather service expected thunderstorms across the region Saturday evening and more rain at least through Sunday.

Authorities are worried that any additional water on ground soaked by up to 15 inches of rain will cause more flooding and dislodge mud and debris.

At least four people have been killed.

In addition, a 60-year-old woman was presumed dead after witnesses saw her being swept away by waters that demolished her home, said Nick Christensen, executive officer of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. Neighbors tried unsuccessfully to rescue the woman, Christensen said. Her body had not been recovered.

The sheriff's office said that about 350 people were unaccounted for in Larimer County. That number jumped sharply Saturday afternoon as rescuers reached more empty homes. The sheriff's office lists such residents as unaccounted for until they are located elsewhere.

In neighboring Boulder County, 172 were on the "unaccounted for" list.

"We're assuming some of them have been stranded. We're assuming that some made their way out and simply haven't contacted us or friends and family to get off the list. We're assuming that there may be further loss of life or injuries," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

A surveillance mission carrying Gov. John Hickenlooper and members of Colorado's congressional delegation was diverted twice to pick up people waving to be rescued.

After the officials' delayed arrival at a Boulder airport, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said, "That dog and the cat and those seven people on those two helicopters didn't ask us whether we were Democrats or Republicans." And he promised a bipartisan push in Congress for federal aid for flood recovery.

Hickenlooper said he spoke by phone with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx , who "was adamant that the $5 million that was released yesterday was just the beginning" of federal assistance.

Experts from Vermont will arrive next week to share lessons learned about improved roadbuilding in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the governor said.

Hickenlooper said he saw many damaged roads with "not just the asphalt taken away, but the entire roadbed, and bridge after bridge missing."

But he promised, "We're going to come back and rebuild better than it was before."

Members of the Colorado National Guard help Boulder County authorities evacuate residents of Lyons, Colorado, to Longmont, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding has hit the area hard, washing out roads, damaging bridges and destroying homes. Members of the Colorado National Guard help Boulder County authorities evacuate residents of Lyons, Colorado, to Longmont, Colorado, on Friday, September 13. Flooding has hit the area hard, washing out roads, damaging bridges and destroying homes.
The guardsmen are using Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, or LMTVs, which can transport about 16 people with luggage, to assist the evacuation. The LMTVs can navigate through rubble and flooded areas that otherwise could not be reached by rescue personnel. The guardsmen are using Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, or LMTVs, which can transport about 16 people with luggage, to assist the evacuation. The LMTVs can navigate through rubble and flooded areas that otherwise could not be reached by rescue personnel.
Dick and LaRue Vodime, temporary residents of Lyons, Colorado, witness some of the destruction from the floods as they are evacuated to Longmont, Colorado, on September 13. Dick and LaRue Vodime, temporary residents of Lyons, Colorado, witness some of the destruction from the floods as they are evacuated to Longmont, Colorado, on September 13.
Colorado Army National Guard Sgt. David Wilson carries Ezra Villa while escorting Thomas Walter and Melinda Villa to the flood evaluation area in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13, 2013.Colorado Army National Guard Sgt. David Wilson carries Ezra Villa while escorting Thomas Walter and Melinda Villa to the flood evaluation area in Lyons, Colorado, on September 13, 2013.
Residents ride in the back of an LMTV while being evacuated to Longmont, Colorado, on September 13. Residents ride in the back of an LMTV while being evacuated to Longmont, Colorado, on September 13.
A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter takes off from the the Boulder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13.A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter takes off from the the Boulder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13.
Guardsmen help residents and their pets off a Colorado National Guard Chinook helicopter at the Bolder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13. Guardsmen help residents and their pets off a Colorado National Guard Chinook helicopter at the Bolder Municipal Airport in Boulder, Colorado, on September 13.
Colorado National Guardsmen assist residents in unincorporated areas of Boulder County, Colorado. Residents were evacuating the area on Thursday, September 12. Colorado National Guardsmen assist residents in unincorporated areas of Boulder County, Colorado. Residents were evacuating the area on Thursday, September 12.
The guardsmen brought in high-clearance vehicles to take people out of the flooded areas. The guardsmen brought in high-clearance vehicles to take people out of the flooded areas.
People, as well as pets, were loaded onto National Guard vehicles.People, as well as pets, were loaded onto National Guard vehicles.
The rains sent virtually every waterway in Boulder County coursing out of its banks, and massive water flows washed away roads and bridges, flooded homes and stressed numerous other bridges.The rains sent virtually every waterway in Boulder County coursing out of its banks, and massive water flows washed away roads and bridges, flooded homes and stressed numerous other bridges.
Authorities reported between 25 and 30 roads were closed as of Thursday afternoon in Boulder County. Some of them had been washed out entirely. Authorities reported between 25 and 30 roads were closed as of Thursday afternoon in Boulder County. Some of them had been washed out entirely.
Friday's forecast calls for three more days of rain for the area. Friday's forecast calls for three more days of rain for the area.
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Gaurd helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
National Guard helps with Colorado evacuations
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National Gaurd evacuatates flood victimsNational Gaurd evacuatates flood victims

Evacuations continued Saturday, but were hindered by drainage issues and flooded roadways, he said. Many residents are isolated.

"It's a sinking feeling," Sheriff Pelle said of knowing that emergency responders may not be able to reach everyone who needs help.

Residents got some relief Friday and Saturday when rains subsided, giving a clear view of towns turned into abrupt lakes, homes and businesses inundated with muddy water and bridges devoured by raging creeks. Homes dangled off cliffs.

In Larimer County, there were 46 medical rescues on Friday, and teams continued looking for those unaccounted for on Saturday.

In expansive Weld County, 140 roads were closed because of the flooding.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated Friday, including 162 people transported by air from Jamestown because roads to the city were impassible, Boulder County EMS spokesman Ben Pennymon said.

Human toll

Currents swept away a woman who got out of her car Thursday in Boulder County. A man jumped out of the car to save her. Both drowned.

Authorities have recovered both bodies, Pelle said. Another body was found in a collapsed home in Jamestown in the same county. Rescuers recovered another body on a roadway in Colorado Springs in El Paso County.

In Denver, rushing waters swept a man into a drainage pipe with his dog. Both were saved after traveling two blocks in the water, police said.

Impact Your World: How to help in Colorado

President Barack Obama declared an emergency for Boulder, Larimer and El Paso counties, FEMA announced Friday. The declaration allowed FEMA to bring in four rescue teams, the largest ever deployment in Colorado, officials said.

The clear skies allowed for an uptick in evacuations Friday and earlier Saturday.

National Guard troops using "high-profile" trucks to wade through water evacuated 550 people from the Boulder County town of Lyons, CNN affiliate KUSA reported.

It had been cut off since the flooding began Wednesday night -- without water or sewer service, in many cases without electricity.

Emotional rescues

Melinda Villa was stranded in her apartment with her 1-month-old baby in the inundated town. She had no phone service, no water and was running out of formula and food.

Then the National Guard arrived.

"It just really felt like God came down and saved us," she said.

Some had to rescue themselves.

Catherine Smith and Mandy Stepanovsky lived in a part of Lyons that is accessible only by bridges.

"When those became compromised -- one bridge completely blew out and the other one was very much impassible -- we started looking at other options," Smith said.

So the couple decided to hike for 2 miles to safety -- with their 8-month-old toddler in their arms. Walking was the only way out.

They hiked to Smith's brother's house, where they showered and ate a meal before the weather caught up with them again.

A mudslide suddenly brought mud, debris and water through the house, Smith said. They were forced to run to higher ground.

"It was terrifying," Smith said.

Jonathan Linenberger described a Noah's Ark-style evacuation as he, his fiancee, four dogs and three cats greeted the National Guard truck.

"We had to go (through) knee-deep water, at least. We had to wade our animals across into the truck to get them there," said Linenberger. "That was the first thing you can grab, your loved ones -- and that's what we have."

The National Guard also was evacuating the entire population -- 285 people -- from the town of Jamestown by helicopter, CNN affiliate KCNC-TV reported.

In Larimer County, Sheriff Justin Smith surveyed the heavily damaged Big Thompson Canyon by air Friday. Some people remain stranded in homes there, he said, "How we're going to get them out -- it's going to take a damn long time."

However, he said the break in the rain allowed school buses to begin evacuating students who had been stranded at a school.

HLNTV.com: 8 stunning Colorado flooding Twitter photos

CNN's Ben Brumfield reported and wrote from Atlanta; Nick Valencia reported from Longmont, Colorado. George Howell reported from Boulder; and Ana Cabrera reported from Lyons. CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton, David Simpson, Jack Hanna, Janet DiGiacomo, and John Branch contributed to this report.