DENVER – In the past six months, more than $284 million in federal funds has been provided to Coloradans as they recover from last September’s devastating floods.
More than $222 million has come in the form of disaster grants to individuals and families, flood insurance payments and low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses. More than $62 million has been obligated to state and local governments’ response and recovery work.
At the same time, long-term recovery efforts are underway, staffed and funded by federal, state and local governments, and by volunteer agencies dedicated to helping those most in need.
The $284.9 million breaks down this way: (All figures are as of COB March 3, 2014.)
- $60,418,419 in FEMA grants to more than 16,000 individuals and families for emergency home repairs, repair or replacement of essential personal property, rental assistance, and help with medical, dental, legal and other disaster-related expenses;
- $98,750,000 in U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans to more than 2,440 homeowners, renters and businesses;
- $63,641,332 in National Flood Insurance Program payments on 2,071 claims, and
- $62,055,973 in FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements to state and local governments for emergency response efforts, debris cleanup, repairs or rebuilding of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and restoration of critical services.
“The flooding disrupted the lives of thousands, changed the course of streams, isolated mountain communities, and left major roadways impassable in many places,” said Tom McCool, federal coordinating officer for the disaster. “More than 1,200 men and women from FEMA were mobilized from all over the country to this disaster. We’re proud to be part of the team as Coloradans recover, rebuild and renew their lives.”
Over a five-day period last September, historic rainfall swept through the Front Range, with some areas receiving more than 17 inches of rain. The flooding killed 10 people, forced more than 18,000 from their homes and destroyed 1,882 structures, damaging at least 16,000 others. Some of the hardest hit communities included Jamestown, Lyons, Longmont, Glen Haven, Estes Park and Evans.
At the request of Gov. John Hickenlooper, President Obama signed a major disaster declaration for Colorado on Sept. 14, 2013.
The 11 counties designated for Individual Assistance under the major disaster declaration are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan and Weld.
The 18 counties designated for Public Assistance are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington and Weld.
Other federal recovery activities and programs include:
- Approximately 50 percent of Public Assistance permanent repair work and nearly 65 percent of large (more than $67,500) Public Assistance projects contain mitigation measures to lessen the impact of similar disasters on publicly owned infrastructure. These mitigation measures have been approved for 123 projects with a cost of $3,439,200.
- FEMA hazard mitigation specialists have provided county and local officials with technical assistance and reviews of existing flood control measures and challenges, helping revise hazard mitigation plans, and providing advice and counsel on numerous mitigation and flood insurance issues.
- FEMA flood insurance inspectors assisted county officials to assess substantial damage at identified sites.
- National Flood Insurance Program specialists as well as the state NFIP coordinator and state mapping coordinator met with the City of Evans to discuss floodplain management and the city’s recent adoption of the Weld County preliminary maps. The State and FEMA will continue to work with city officials by providing additional training and technical assistance to support their floodplain management program.
Disaster Case Management Program
- FEMA has awarded a Disaster Case Management Grant of $2,667,963 to the State of Colorado. Under this state-administered program, case managers will meet one-on-one with survivors to assess unmet disaster-related needs that have not been covered by other resources.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
- $302,795 has been dispersed to 151 applicants in this federally funded, state-administered program.
Crisis Counseling Grant Program
- Colorado Spirit crisis counselors have talked directly with 18,178 people and provided referrals and other helpful information to more than 88,000. Counselors met with nearly 1,200 individuals or families in their homes. The counselors are continuing door-to-door services and community outreach counseling programs. In mid-March, the longer-term Crisis Counseling Regular Services Program grant will be awarded to the State to continue the program.
- The grant will provide an additional nine months of crisis counseling outreach services to survivors.
- At the height of the disaster there were 53 agencies that ultimately provided a total of 275,784 volunteer hours. Survivors received shelter, food, water, snacks, muck-out, and debris removal.
- Long Term Recovery Groups have been established in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties, and Longmont and Lyons.
- El Paso and Fremont counties are offering case management through El Paso County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.
Disaster Legal Services Program
- Through the Colorado Bar Association/American Bar Association program, 284 State Bar-Licensed volunteer attorneys assisted 619 survivors with disaster-related legal issues. The program completed operations at the end of February.
Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination
- The Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination group has brought together federal and state subject-matter experts to advise local and state decision-makers on the best methods to achieve an effective recovery. The FDRC focuses on how best to restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural and environmental fabric of the community.
- The group’s recently released Mission Scoping Assessment lists recovery-related impacts and the breadth of support needed, as well as evaluates gaps between recovery needs and capabilities. Its soon-to-be-released Recovery Support Strategies document outlines state recovery priorities and discusses how federal agencies can support those efforts.
- The State of Colorado, FDRC and other federal agencies are:
- assisting Lyons and Jamestown with long-term community planning and recovery organization;
- facilitating a survey to gauge impacts of flooding on business communities;
- helping identify housing options for disaster survivors, and
- helping local governments identify stream channel choke points so local communities can prioritize limited hazard reduction in streams.
- By clicking the “like” button on the COEmergency Facebook page, Coloradans can get detailed posts with useful information and photos. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s (DHSEM) Twitter account COEmergency has more than 23,000 followers and offers disaster recovery information, links to news products and other information that disaster survivors may still find useful.
- More than 1,000 tweets have provided response and recovery information. Since the September floods began, more than 1,200 new participants have started following FEMA Region 8.