The Colorado Congressional delegation today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Governor Hickenlooper's request to add several counties to those eligible for individual and public assistance to recover from last month's historic floods and to extend the registration and application deadlines.
Earlier this week, Gov. Hickenlooper formally requested that Broomfield, Denver, Fremont, Gilpin, Morgan, Otero, and Washington counties be designated for Individual Assistance and that Arapahoe, Crowley, Denver, Fremont, Gilpin, Lake, Lincoln, and Sedgwick counties be made eligible for Public Assistance. The Governor also requested that the registration and application deadlines for filing for assistance be extended.
"We urge you to use your discretion to expand Individual Assistance and Public Assistance to the additional Colorado counties requested by Governor Hickenlooper on October 17th," the delegation wrote in a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Homeowners and businesses in these counties experienced significant destruction as a result of the floods."
"Many survivors continue to rebuild in inaccessible locations, and need additional time to adequately complete their applications," the delegation added, citing the government shutdown, recent snow accumulation, and extensive highway damage -- all of which delayed important recovery assessments -- as further rationale for extending the filing deadlines.
The entire Congressional delegation has worked since the flooding began to ensure Colorado communities and agencies have every federal resource they need to save lives, protect homes and start the recovery process. The recent bill passed to fund the government included a provision written by members of the delegation to raise the cap on emergency highway funding available to Colorado to rebuild and repair roads and bridges battered by the floods. They also urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make disaster recovery funds available.
The lawmakers will continue to work together with federal agencies to advocate for critical federal resources to aid in recovery efforts.
Full Text of the Letter:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
We write to support Governor Hickenlooper's request to add individual and expanded public assistance to additional Colorado counties recovering from the unprecedented flooding that swept the Front Range last month. The Governor requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) add individual assistance to Broomfield, Denver, Fremont, Gilpin, Morgan, Otero and Washington counties, and further requested that Public Assistance expand for Arapahoe, Crowley, Denver, Fremont, Gilpin, Lake, Lincoln, Sedgwick, Otero and Pueblo counties. The Governor also requested the extension of a number of application deadlines associated with the recovery. We ask that you move expeditiously to consider and grant all of these requests.
As you know, storms struck Colorado in early September, damaging or destroying at least 16,000 homes, and hundreds of local businesses. The state continues to assess the damage, but it is clear that hundreds of millions of dollars of public infrastructure have been swept away. Nine Coloradans tragically died in the floods. Over 20,000 Colorado families have already registered for individual assistance, more than 1,400 have applied for an SBA disaster loan, and we expect these numbers will continue to rise. The scale of damage is overwhelming. In parts of the state, this event was a 500-year flood, or worse.
Coloradans are resilient. We know we will recover from these storms, and we know we will rebuild our communities so that they are stronger than ever. Across the Front Range, first responders, community leaders, neighbors and friends have gone to heroic lengths -- first to save lives, and now to begin the enormous task of rebuilding with a determination that has always defined our state. But Coloradans are also practical, and we also know that given the severity and magnitude of this disaster, any recovery will require a sustained commitment of federal resources.
We commend you and the personnel you oversee and for the urgency and efficiency with which FEMA has responded to the disaster so far. However, there is more work to be done. We urge you to use your discretion to expand Individual Assistance and Public Assistance to the additional Colorado counties requested by Governor Hickenlooper on October 17th. Homeowners and businesses in these counties experienced significant destruction as a result of the floods. Finally, we ask that you extend the registration and application deadlines that Governor Hickenlooper specified in his October 17th request. As the Governor pointed out, many survivors continue to rebuild in inaccessible locations, and need additional time to adequately complete their applications. The expansion of Individual Assistance and Public Assistance for a number of new counties as requested by the Governor, if granted by FEMA, will also give homeowners and businesses in the new counties a significantly compressed timeframe to apply for disaster loans and benefits. Moreover, the shutdown of the federal government, the extensive damage to Colorado highways, and recent snow accumulation all further delayed a number of assessments and processes that are integral to the recovery process. All of these factors provide a compelling rationale for extending these key deadlines.
We urge you to move expeditiously to grant his request, and expand the disaster declaration to cover homeowners who, up until today, have not been eligible to apply for the assistance available to so many thousands of other affected Coloradans.
Thank you for your consideration.