(To Editor: Photos of disaster response and recovery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/
In the month since heavy rains brought flooding, landslides and mudslides, Colorado survivors, armed with more than $60.7 million in state and federal assistance and low-interest loans, are cleaning up, rebuilding and planning for the future. Of this amount, more than $41.3 million in Individual Assistance (IA) helps Coloradans make repairs to primary homes and cover other disaster-related expenses such as medical or personal property loss. Other survivors have benefitted from disaster unemployment assistance, legal aid and temporary sheltering in hotels and motels.
More than 190 inspectors in the field have looked at nearly 21,000 properties in the nine designated counties.
In addition, the State of Colorado has made $91.5 million available in the Disaster Emergency Fund to the 24 counties with state emergency declarations. A State Recovery Office has been created to help lead the state’s recovery efforts in partnership with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Counties with FEMA IA designations are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan and Weld. Counties with FEMA Public Assistance (PA) designations are Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Washington and Weld.
Counties with state emergency declarations are Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Chaffee, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Otero, Park, Pueblo, Prowers, Sedgwick, Washington and Weld.
At this time, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance, a partner in the recovery effort, has approved 488 disaster loans totaling nearly $19.4 million for residents and businesses in disaster-designated counties in Colorado. To date, Boulder County residents and businesses have been approved for more than $13 million in disaster loans; Larimer has been approved for $2.1 million and Weld County for $2.7 million.
The FEMA-administered National Flood Insurance Program has paid claims totaling $6.3 million on 588 claims.
More than 270 FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) specialists have canvassed hard-hit Colorado neighborhoods helping survivors connect with recovery services. More than 10,500 survivors have talked to local, state, nonprofit, nongovernmental and FEMA specialists at the 15 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in designated counties. To ensure that Coloradans receive information about assistance, FEMA provides information in Spanish and many other languages.
FEMA continues to work with state and local governments to reach survivors in inaccessible communities. DSA specialists are traveling to these communities by all-terrain vehicles, on foot and other means to help survivors in these areas register for assistance.
Six states are supporting flood recovery efforts through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). These states include North Dakota, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Alabama and Montana. Additional assistance from National Guard units from Iowa, Utah and Wyoming have or are providing assistance in Colorado.
More than 7,700 Coloradans have met with mitigation specialists at DRCs and at local hardware stores to learn ways to rebuild structures so they are more resilient to future storm damage.
FEMA and state specialists also use digital communications outreach to provide information to flood survivors. Through the FEMA Region 8 Twitter account, more than 300 tweets (or an average of 10 per day) provided response and recovery information in the first 30 days of the incident period. In the month since the Colorado flooding began, nearly 400 new participants have started following FEMA Region 8.
The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s (DHSEM) Twitter account COEmergency has more than 20,600 followers and offers disaster recovery information, links to news products and other information disaster survivors may find useful.
By clicking the “like” button on the COEmergency Facebook page, Coloradans can offer detailed posts with useful information and photos.
A message on Facebook could potentially be seen by any of FEMA’s nearly 150,000 followers. The Colorado disaster webpage, fema.gov/disaster/4145, has had nearly 80,000 page views since the declaration: The average daily number of page views for the first 30 days after the disaster was 2,600, including the peak day for traffic on Sept. 16 with 15,040 views.
More than 50 national, state and local voluntary and faith-based organizations have spent thousands of hours helping people as they recover from the flooding. The volunteers are providing donations, volunteer management, home repair, child care, pet care, counseling services and removal of muck and mold from homes.
After a devastating storm, one of the priorities is to clean up debris so neighborhoods can begin rebuilding. PA Debris Teams were working with the state in the first week after the disaster declaration, helping communities understand what to do with debris once the water receded. In addition to helping with debris removal, PA is working with its state and federal partners, assessing the state’s many flood-damaged roads and bridges.
PA funding provides a 75 percent federal reimbursement for eligible, disaster-related debris removal, emergency measures and permanent work to repair and replace disaster-damaged public facilities and roads and bridges.
As flood waters rose, agencies began working together to rescue people who were cut off by flood waters or damaged roads. The State Emergency Operations Center was activated on Sept. 12 to provide support and technical assistance to local communities.
The Colorado National Guard, supported by the Wyoming National Guard and additional aviation assets from the Army, evacuated more than 3,700 people and more than 1,000 pets in flooded Colorado communities. The troops not only moved survivors from areas cut off by flood waters but protected property. They also constructed access trails around impassible sites.
The Department of Defense supported rescue efforts by supplying 21 helicopters to search and rescue operations staffed by the Colorado National Guard, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, and the Wyoming National Guard. Hundreds of survivors were airlifted to safety. Buckley Air Force Base also opened its gates as a staging area for FEMA commodities.
In addition to the flight operations, the Urban Search and Rescue teams walked door to door, checking on thousands of residences in flood zones to assure that those in the flooded areas who wanted to be evacuated were given the opportunity to evacuate.
Other partner agencies used their technology to measure flood data to help assure the safety of rescue efforts. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) dispatched flood response crews to measure and report flood flow data needed by federal, state and local agencies to forecast the magnitude and timing of incoming flood waters and to coordinate flood-response activities such as closing dams and identifying evacuation zones. After the flood, the USGS flagged high-water marks in hazardous locations and assessed safety concerns in areas where landslides occurred.
In addition to the immediate rescue efforts, FEMA’s partners worked to maintain the safety of resources for Coloradans. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under a mission assignment from FEMA Public Assistance, worked on water systems in the flooded areas to ensure Coloradans had safe drinking water and assured the integrity of the wastewater system in Colorado. This was part of 27 infrastructure assessments of public water and wastewater systems.
Thousands of photos taken by the Colorado Civil Air Patrol (CAP) helped FEMA and other agencies determine the flood’s impact and assess where the need existed for damage control and assistance. The CAP, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, produced photos that were uploaded directly to FEMA’s website, fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/. CAP also carried VIPs and media representatives to the flooded areas.
Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination
In preparation for the long road of recovery for Colorado communities, the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator and the State Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Colorado are working with public and private partners at the federal, state and local levels to identify unmet needs as well as traditional and innovative resources that can be used to support rebuilding. The National Disaster Recovery Support Cadre will be assisting counties as they determine the tools needed to address the long-term issues and challenges in the communities.
County-By-County Breakdown of State and Federal Grants
Adams County Housing Assistance: $787,070
Arapahoe County Housing Assistance: $2,297,300
Boulder County Housing Assistance: $23,310,832
Clear Creek County Housing Assistance: $102,061
El Paso County Housing Assistance: $831,219
Jefferson County Housing Assistance: $1,038,002
Larimer County Housing Assistance: $3,064,994
Logan County Housing Assistance: $412,322
Weld County Housing Assistance: $6,775,043
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Follow FEMA online at fema.gov/blog, twitter.com/fema, facebook.com/fema, and youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links are provided for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management supports the needs of local government and partners with them before, during and after a disaster and to enhance preparedness statewide by devoting available resources toward prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery, which will ensure greater resiliency of our communities. For more information: coemergency.com and CORecovers.info.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants can go to sba.govb/disaster or call (800) 659-2955(TTY 1-800-977-8339).