This four-page section covers information on Colorado’s weather related disasters. From wildfires, to flooding, to blizzards and national security, make yourself aware and prepared.
“I think we could have been more prepared.”
That was the sentiment Amber Buller, a 36-year-old Lyons resident said of the Colorado floods that claimed eight lives and caused over 11,000 evacuations.
“My home was torn apart. I think we knew what was coming, but we didn’t know the magnitude of it. It’s the strangest thing. It’s gradual, but instantaneous at the same time.”
The constant downpour that began on Sept. 9 and continued for three days severely the way of life for residents of 14 of Colorado’s densely populated counties from Larimer to Weld.
The impact prompted the White House to release a statement in which President Barack Obama declared the floods a major disaster and made federal funding available to individuals in 15 affected counties.
What could residents and businesses have been done to prepare for the surprising, unrelenting downpour?
According to www.READYColorado.com, Coloradoans who live in a flood-prone area, which should be considered any area near a flowing body of water, should get flood insurance. Residents of flood-prone areas should also have a 72-hour kit with drinking water and non-perishable food on hand and a working sump pump to keep excess water from accumulating as much as possible.
“Once flooding has begun, it’s imperative you keep informed,” said Micki Trost, Public Information Officer of the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Not only did the flooding alter lives in the most affected areas by leaving a slew of residents homeless, jobless and without schools, it also left a significant economic imprint as several local businesses were forced to close their doors.
“That’s if there were any doors left to close,” said Steve Childs, owner of the Glen Haven General Store, which was demolished by a runaway Ford Bronco during the floods. “This is the time of year when people will drive up to the mountains to see the foliage and the elk.”
Childs added that the floods have been particularly devastating in that fall nature watcher would almost inevitably visit the General Store for a cinnamon roll during their trek through Glen Haven.
“The line would go out the door,” he said. “Now no one can make the drive up here.”
Apart from Federal funding, several affected businesses have found solace in the form of grants and loans from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance.
According to the Garth MacDonald, public information officer of the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance, the department’s loan programs offer “low-interest federal disaster loans to residents, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations impacted by the Colorado floods.”
In addition, MacDonald added, homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence; may borrow up to $40,000 to replace damaged personal property, including vehicles; and “businesses of any size as well as private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other assets.”
The SBA also offers of list of “dos” to prepare businesses for flooding through www.preparemybusiness.org.
Before the flood, for example, the site urges business owners to “take all necessary steps to prevent the release of dangerous chemicals that might be store on your property, postpone any receipt of goods and deliveries, establish emergency communication method, maintain accurate inventory of product on site and use plug to prevent floodwater form backing up into sewer drains.”
The floods severely impacted Colorado residents and business owners and have left thousands in a state of recover that will last a year. However one prepares for flooding, the most paramount step, according to READYColorado is “life safety.”
“We’re just like thousands of other people who lost their homes,” Buller said. “I’m truly sorry for those who also lost a loved one in the midst of it all.”