Colorado Flooding – 100 Days Later

In the 100 days following the catastrophic floods that hit much of Colorado, more than $204 million has gone to individuals and households in recovery assistance, flood insurance payments and low-interest disaster loans.
In addition, more than $28 million has been obligated to begin to repair and rebuild critical infrastructure and restore vital services.
Initially, the State, federal and local objectives were to save lives, bring aid to the affected areas, provide temporary safe housing, clear debris and to make immediate repairs to damaged infrastructure to put communities on the path to recovery.
President Obama signed a major-disaster declaration for Colorado Sept. 14 after severe and unremitting rains that began on Sept. 11 inundated much of the northeast portion of the state. The flooding killed 10 people, forced more than 18,000 from their homes, destroyed 1,882 structures and damaged at least 16,000 others.
Progress by the Numbers:

·         Under the Individuals and Households Program, FEMA has granted $53,816,716 for housing needs and $4,572,871 to help survivors who suffered damage to their homes. Under the Public Assistance Program, FEMA has obligated $28,338,878 to publicly owned entities and certain nonprofits that provide vital services. (See below for county-by-county breakdowns.)

·         The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved 2,274 low-interest disaster loans for over $90 million to Colorado homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations. Of that amount, $73 million was in loans to repair and rebuild homes and replace personal property and $17 million was in business and economic-injury loans. Approved loan amounts for some of the most impacted areas include $55.2 million to Boulder County, $14 million for Larimer County and $9.4 million for Weld County.

·         More than 50 national, State and local volunteer organizations pitched in to help in the recovery efforts, involving the work of 28,664 people giving their time and energy to both short- and long-term healing and to address any unmet needs. Volunteers provided donations-coordination, home repair, child and pet care, counseling services, removal of muck and mud from homes and much more. In-kind donations amounted to $3,187,564. Valuing a volunteer hour at $22.43, the 275,860 hours of time represents a contribution of $6,162,725.

·         The National Flood Insurance Program approved more than $55.7 million to settle 1,910 claims.

·         More than 28,348 survivors registered for disaster assistance.

·         FEMA housing inspectors in the field have looked at nearly 26,000 properties in the 11 counties designated for Individual Assistance in the president’s major-disaster declaration.

·         FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams canvassed hundreds of neighborhoods, visiting more than 62,000 homes and 2,741 businesses to provide information on a vast array of services and resources available to eligible applicants and made follow-up contacts in hundreds of cases.

·         More than 21,500 survivors were able to visit 26 State/federal Disaster Recovery Centers to get one-on-one briefings on available assistance, low-interest loans and other information.


·         Since Transitional Sheltering Assistance was activated Sept. 22, a total of 1,067 households have stayed in 177 participating hotels. TheTransitional Sheltering Assistance deadline was extended five times to Dec. 14, with checkout Dec. 15. To date, 55 manufactured housing units are either in place or being placed in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties for families unable to secure other housing resources. FEMA has ordered a total of 66 manufactured housing units.

·         In the 18 counties designated for FEMA’s Public Assistance program, 236 meetings were held to discuss the details of the program and the amounts involved in each recovery project. This component of federal assistance provides at least 75 percent of the costs of repairing and rebuilding public infrastructure, reimbursement for emergency measures, helping critical services conducted by governments and certain nonprofits get back to normal, and in some cases implementing mitigation against future damage and losses. FEMA and the State fielded 238 eligible Requests for Public Assistance. The amount obligated so far: $28,338,878.


·         FEMA and the State supplied disaster-assistance information to 33 chambers of commerce, six economic-development centers and 38 schools of higher education.

·         FEMA’s Speakers Bureau received 85 requests from officials and other interested parties and 443 State/federal specialists have spoken at meetings and other venues. Thus more than 8,300 attendees were able to get information on assistance programs, flood insurance and low-interest loans.

·         FEMA mitigation specialists counseled 15,250 survivors during outreach efforts at area big-box hardware and building-supply stores and counseled more than 4,700 at Disaster Recovery Centers.

·         At, the dedicated Colorado-disaster website, there have been more than 103,000 hits – an average of 1,300 daily. The FEMA Region VIII Twitter feed has fielded more than 600 tweets and has increased the number of followers to 9,100. In the last 100 days, the State has sent out 1,025 tweets, has increased to 21,500 @COemergency followers and the COemergency Facebook page garnered 2,182 “likes.” The page has had 234,757 page views.

·         FEMA Corps teams were instrumental in spreading the word about assistance throughout the affected areas and worked alongside FEMA regulars in the Joint Field Office in Centennial. More than 300 FEMA Corps members helped survivors in responding to and recovering from the disaster.

County-by-county Breakdown of State and Federal Grants

Adams County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Arapahoe County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Boulder County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Clear Creek County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

El Paso County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Fremont County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Jefferson County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Larimer County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Logan County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Morgan County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

Weld County
Housing Assistance

Other Needs Assistance

Total State/FEMA Assistance

After the Deluge:
The floods triggered a massive combined State and federal effort to support first responders, protect life and property and minimize environmental damage. At the request of Governor John Hickenlooper, President Obama signed the Major Disaster Declaration, authorizing FEMA to support the State and local responses and to begin recovery work.
The State Emergency Operations Center was activated on Sept. 12 to provide support and technical assistance to local communities.

The Colorado National Guard, joined by the Wyoming National Guard and other aviation assets from the Army, evacuated more than 3,700 people and more than 1,000 pets in flooded communities. Access trails were cut around sites made impassable by the floods. The Department of Defense supplied 21 helicopters for search-and-rescue operations staffed by the Colorado National Guard, the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, and the Wyoming National Guard. Hundreds of survivors were airlifted to safety. Buckley Air Force Base opened its gates as a staging area for FEMA equipment and supplies.

Five FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams under the direction of local public-safety officials walked door-to-door, checking on thousands of residences in the flood zones to assure that those who wanted to be evacuated were given the opportunity and the means to leave.

FEMA dispensed nearly $9 million in federal mission assignments for life-saving and life-sustaining assistance in support of State and local first-responders. 

Other partner agencies used their technology to measure and monitor flood data. The U.S. Geological Survey dispatched flood-response crews to assess and report flood-flow information needed by federal, State and local agencies to forecast the magnitude and timing of the rising waters and to coordinate flood-response activities such as closing dams and identifying evacuation zones. After the event, the USGS flagged high-water marks in hazardous locations and addressed safety concerns in areas where landslides occurred.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, under a mission assignment from FEMA, worked on water systems in the flooded areas to ensure Coloradans had safe drinking water and to maintain the integrity of the wastewater systems.

Long-term Recovery

State and federal entities – including the Colorado Division of Homeland Security  and Emergency Management and FEMA, along with the appropriate mission-dedicated components of the State and federal governments – brought to bear several programs to deal with the aftermath of the event and help Coloradans to get back on their feet.
On the long road to recuperation, the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator and the State Disaster Recovery Coordinator 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. Coordinating agencies represented in FDRC include the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Commerce.

FEMA’s focus is now turning toward seeing that counties and communities adopt full charge of their recovery work as the Agency takes a closer look at long-term needs. To be accomplished effectively, these endeavors will take time, but will ultimately result in a safer and more resilient Colorado.  

(Editor: Cuts of disaster response and recovery are available at or


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