Gov. John Hickenlooper today named a Chief Recovery Officer to work closely with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local partners to help lead the state's response to devastating flooding in 17 counties along the Front Range and on the Eastern Plains.
The governor today also announced the creation of a new group at the Colorado Department of Transportation to focus on rebuilding damaged parts of Colorado's highway system.
Jerre Stead, executive chairman of Englewood-based IHS Inc., will be the state's new Chief Recovery Officer. ISH is a global information company with world-class experts energy, economics, geopolitical risk, sustainability and supply chain management. Stead, IHS Senior Vice President Kerri Nelson and other IHS colleagues will donate their time helping Colorado with this recovery effort.
"We are about to embark on a rebuilding effort of a truly epic scale," Hickenlooper said. "It's essential that we have the right team in place to help coordinate efforts at the local, state and federal levels. We want to recover and rebuild quickly, better and in the most efficient way possible. Jerre is the perfect person to help us design and deliver a coordinated response to this disaster."
Stead will help lead recovery efforts for Colorado including securing and supervision of staff and working with the FEMA and the Colorado Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the Governor's Office. More specifically, his duties will include:
*Ensuring all recovery assessments are completed by coordinating with OEM.
*Ensuring all local communities understand resource allocation by coordinating with OEM and working with members of the General Assembly.
*Ensuring initial assessment of winter conditions and recovery needs, with an execution plan for response presented to the Governor.
*Advocating for federal funding and ensuring that Colorado receives all available funding.
*Ensuring quality control of work and "building for the future."
*Establishing mechanisms for fundraising for recovery and for use of volunteers, including home rebuilding, and establishing a volunteer coordination structure and fundraising ability to assist in efforts.
*Coordinating with local leaders to ensure positive working relations.
"We are honored to be asked to assist Colorado," Stead said. "IHS is donating our time to help communities recover in as expeditious a manner as possible. We look forward to partnering with OEM and our local and federal partners in the critical days ahead. We will rebuild stronger."
The new group at CDOT to focus on rebuilding damaged parts of Colorado's highway system is the Infrastructure Recovery Force (IR Force). The group will clear, repair and reconstruct as many components of the damaged state highway system as possible by Dec. 1, before the onset of winter. The IR Force will also provide coordination and assistance to local government in re-establishing critical links to local roads, bridges, water, sewer, power and communications.
The mission will focus on two areas:
*Response: Including debris clearing, temporary road building and portable bridges. The work will be conducted by CDOT staff, emergency contractors and National Guard where possible. This work will be conducted in the next few months.
*Recovery: Including more traditional infrastructure construction which will occur over the next year to establish permanent roadways and bridges.
The preliminary damage assessment of the state highway system is not complete. The damage is severe and extensive. More than 200 lane miles of state highway are damaged or impacted by the floods and 50 bridges are destroyed and damaged. The Federal Highway Administration made $35 million in "Quick Release" emergency fund relief available, and the CDOT Transportation Commission has allocated $100 million to begin initial repairs.
"With winter on the horizon, we will be restoring routes to communities that currently have limited access," said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. "Over the next 60 days, our IR Force, with help from the contracting community, National Guard and our state and federal partners, will focus on removing debris and building temporary roads to improve access to as many impacted routes as possible. It is imperative that we restore as much highway infrastructure as possible in the next two to three months."
CDOT Deputy Director Scot Cuthbertson and Johnny Olson, the Regional Transportation Director for Region 4 -- Greeley, will manage the task force. Heidi Bimmerle Humphreys will become acting CDOT Deputy Director, while Corey Stewart will become acting RTD for Region 4. Cuthbertson and Olson will be joined by a reassignment of CDOT staff to the IR Force.
The IR Force will accomplish recovery work through the rotational assignment of statewide CDOT maintenance, engineering and support employees. In addition, CDOT personnel will be supplemented by private construction forces and National Guard.