Denver, CO -- In the midst of one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in memory, federal and state resources are in place to assist La Plata County in battling the fires and recovering from their effects.
On June 19, President Bush issued a federal disaster declaration for 56 counties and two Indian reservations in Colorado, making a number of disaster assistance programs available. Assistance may be available for those who suffered damage to their home or business as well as those displaced during evacuations.
"It's important that anyone who had to leave home due to an evacuation give us a call and register," said Federal Coordinating Officer Steve Emory. "While you may not have suffered damage to your home, you should not rule yourself out for assistance. There may be help available to cover some of the lodging costs incurred while away from home."
Individuals and businesses affected by the fires can register for assistance by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toll-free number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Hearing- and speech-impaired individuals may call 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
Through July 4, a total of 503 residents and businesses in La Plata County have registered for disaster assistance and a total of $21,537 in housing assistance has already been approved for La Plata County residents.
The Colorado Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have established a Disaster Recovery Center in Durango. The center is located at Riverview Elementary School, 2900 Mesa Ave. Those affected by the fires can stop in, meet face-to-face with staff from recovery agencies and get answers to questions about disaster assistance programs. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.
In addition to the disaster declaration, FEMA has issued Fire Management Assistance Grants for both the Missionary Ridge and Valley fires that continue to burn in La Plata County. Under these grants, FEMA will pay 75 percent of eligible costs incurred by state and local governments in fighting the wildfires.