State Will Observe Anniversary of Epic Flooding with Volunteer Service Day

The historic Colorado flooding that began a year ago Sept. 11  impacted at least 24 of the state’s 64 counties, forced the evacuation of more than 18,000 residents and took 10 lives.

Damage has been estimated at $3 billion, including $1.7 billion to the state’s infrastructure and $623 million to housing.

A home damaged by last September's floods dangles above the Big Thompson River. Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan

Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan / The Coloradoan

A home damaged by last September's floods dangles above the Big Thompson River. Kevin Duggan/The Coloradoan

“The recovery from the floods has been a collaborative effort since day one: the governor, the congressional delegation, community partners, the General Assembly and non-profits,” said Molly Urbina, Colorado’s chief recovery officer. “However, we still have a significant unmet need. It’s unlikely that everyone will be made whole, but we will continue to aggressively seek funding for long-term recovery effort.”

Said Gov. John Hickenlooper, in a statement commemorating the year anniversary, “The flooding that began nearly a year ago will be forever etched in Colorado history. But what will also endure is the story of how Coloradans responded. Faced with this disaster, the people of our state once again showed their resilience and rugged optimism.”

According to the state’s appraisal,  21 families remain in temporary housing. State and local highways have reopened, but permanent repairs will take considerably longer. Nearly  $1.5 billion in state and federal funding has been allocated for the recovery, including more than $300 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery (DR) funds. The state recently submitted an amendment seeking an allocation of an additional  $199.3 million in federal disaster recovery funds.

In counties hardest hit by the floods, including Larimer, Boulder and Weld, plenty remains to be done. Many individual communities are still rebuilding.

The Boulder County town of Lyons lost 20 percent of its housing stock, sustained heavy damage to water and sewer infrastructure and had long sections of town streets and roads washed away.

The town has made huge strides toward recovery, as reported by PBS NewsHour, and will host a schedule of anniversary events. But Mayor John O’Brien said there are still dozens of projects, including repairing parks, streams and bridges, waiting for completion.

In an interview with Grace Hood of radio station KUNC, O’Brien said the lack of affordable housing remains an issue. The town lost both of its two trailer parks, which held about 50 homes.

“We had a housing shortage even before the flood. So it’s sort of replacement plus if you will,” said O’Brien.

For those who would like to become involved in anniversary participation, the state is holding a statewide day of service this Saturday, Sept. 13. Volunteers can sign up for specific projects at ColoradoUnited.com.

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