DENVER, Colo. -- The State of Colorado Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a variety of assistance programs for victims of the recent Colorado flooding following the major disaster declaration signed by President Bill Clinton on May 17.
The declaration for Bent, El Paso, Larimer, Otero and Weld counties came at the request of Governor Bill Owens as a result of extensive flooding along the Arkansas, Big Thompson and South Platte Rivers in eastern Colorado. Following is a summary of the week's activities:
- On Tuesday, May 17, President Clinton signed a federal disaster declaration for Individual Assistance in Bent, El Paso, Larimer, Otero and Weld counties. This declaration released a variety of assistance programs to affected individuals in those counties.
- Assistance programs that may be available under the Individual Assistance program include temporary disaster housing assistance, low-interest loans for repair and replacement of real or personal property, and grants to help meet serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by other assistance programs. Disaster unemployment benefits are also available for those who are unemployed as a result of the disaster and who do not otherwise qualify for unemployment compensation, such as farm workers and self-employed individuals.
- FEMA established a special toll-free number for individuals to call and register for assistance. That number is 1-800-462-9029 (TTY for persons with hearing or speech impairments is 1-800-462-7585). Individuals and businesses in the five counties declared for Individual Assistance are encouraged to call immediately.
- At the request of the Governor, FEMA is conducting a preliminary damage assessment in Pueblo County to determine if that county may also qualify for federal disaster relief under the Individual Assistance program.
- On Thursday, May 20, emergency management officials completed preliminary damage assessments for Public Assistance in 15 Colorado counties. Public Assistance programs provide financial assistance to municipalities for debris removal, emergency response measures, and repairs to roads, bridges and other publicly owned buildings and facilities damaged in the disaster. Public Assistance is funded 75 percent by FEMA and 25 percent by state and local resources.
- On Friday, May 21, FEMA approved Public Assistance for 12 Colorado counties including Bent, El Paso, Larimer, Otero, Weld (already designated for Individual Assistance), as well as Crowley, Custer, Elbert, Fremont, Kiowa and Las Animas. According to State Coordinating Officer Tommy Grier of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, emergency management officials will schedule briefings with local officials on how to apply for the assistance.
- On Friday, May 21, state and federal disaster response managers, including Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Logan, FEMA Regional Director Rick Weiland, and Colorado Emergency Management Liaison Bill Cordova, met with local officials in La Junta, Colorado Springs and Pueblo to discuss response and recovery efforts. A similar outreach effort is planned for the northern Colorado counties affected by the disaster.
- On Saturday, May 22, a Disaster Recovery Center opened at 215 Raton Avenue in La Junta, Colorado. The center is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. over the weekend, and 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday-Friday. A variety of federal, state and voluntary agencies are available to answer questions about assistance programs, check on the status of pending application, and direct disaster victims to voluntary agencies who may be able help with needs not met by state or federal programs. However, ...