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Los Angeles (AFP) Sept 23, 2013
Vice President Joe Biden visited flood-stricken Colorado on Monday, and pledged that a looming government shutdown would not threaten federal aid to the western US state.
Biden flew in a helicopter with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper over areas devastated by flash floods earlier this month which left at least eight people dead.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in Colorado, releasing federal funds and resources to help state and local authorities in rescue and recovery efforts.
The White House warned US federal agencies Monday to prepare for a possible government shutdown that could hobble the US economy as Congress wrangled over a budget deadline. The current fiscal year ends on September 30.
But Biden said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resource centers and hotlines will still be available to help Colorado flood victims.
"It's probably going to scare the living devil out of you," Biden said of the negotiations over the debt ceiling that threaten to paralyze the government.
But he vowed: "There will be someone on the other end of the line who will walk you through."
Nearly 2,000 square miles (5,180 km2) in 17 Colorado counties were left stricken by floods that lasted a week from September 11. Biden, Hickenlooper and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate saw many of the areas hardest hit on Monday.
Nearly 1,900 homes were destroyed by the floods and over 16,000 damaged. Eight people are confirmed dead and two others are missing, presumed dead, according to the latest figures.
Biden said he and Hickenlooper chatted on the helicopter about the devastation wreaked by torrential weather like that in Colorado, and storms on the East Coast, hit by Superstorm Sandy last October.
"Everything was uprooted," he said of what he saw Monday, adding: "It is amazing what (water) does."
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