This week marks one year since devastating storms impacted more than 24 counties and more than 2,000 square miles in Colorado. The floods took 10 lives, and forced the evacuation of more than 18,000 residents. At the same time, they caused an estimated $3 billion in damage, including $1.7 billion to the state’s infrastructure, $623 million to housing and $555 billion to the state’s economy.
In the days following the President’s disaster declaration, HUD has been on the ground, speeding federal disaster assistance to the State of Colorado and providing support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes by the severe storms and subsequent flooding.
We knew success would begin with coordinated recovery efforts between the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State of Colorado, and local communities.
A year later, 21 families remain in temporary housing, state and local highways have reopened, permanent repairs are under way, and long-term recovery efforts are moving forward at the county and municipal levels. Nearly $1.5 billion in state and federal funding has been allocated for the recovery, including over $300 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery (DR) funds.
This weekend we honor the ongoing efforts of federal, state, local organizations and hundreds of dedicated volunteers, through Colorado United Day, on Saturday, September 13th. We are excited to be a part of this state-wide day of service.
One of the most crucial lessons we’ve learned and applied from other disasters around the country is that recovery and resilience must be inextricably linked. As we continue to work together toward recovery, we are paying close attention to rebuilding our communities to be better prepared for future storms.
This focus on resiliency is also demonstrated in HUD’s new National Disaster Resilience Competition, which will make $1 billion available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years. The competition will promote risk assessment and planning and will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events.
As the clean-up efforts continue, the work of volunteers and staff has been exemplary and citizens who have joined the recovery efforts here in the State have done an extraordinary job.
Together, we will keep striving to build a better, stronger and more resilient Colorado.
Rick Garcia is the HUD Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator.