The Colorado floods of September 2013 plunge the state into disaster, but rebuilding help is already available.
Torrential rains that fell on Colorado’s Front Range counties and urban communities in the middle of September triggered flash floods and have prompted the state’s costliest natural disaster in memory. By way of example, Boulder County received 17.17 inches of rain as of September 16, ten times the monthly average, while an unprecedented 9.08 inches of rain fell in Boulder on September 12 alone, shattering previous records. (Time, "The Science Behind Colorado’s Thousand-Year Flood.")
As many residents living in the state’s most widely affected areas focus on the most pressing stages of initial clean-up, estimates of the overall magnitude of property damage brought about by the Colorado floods are already being calculated.
According to a recent Reuters article, the damage due to flooding is projected to reach nearly $2 billion. Carole Walker, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (www.rmiia.org), has spoken about data provided by the catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat, Inc. (www.eqecat.com). The company’s digital projections of the Colorado floods estimate that the state has suffered about $900 million in residential property damage and another $1 billion in losses to commercial and governmental property, which includes road, bridge and other infrastructure damage.
Walker told Reuters that this initial modeling of the disaster represents "a good first snapshot of the extent of the damage, based on the numbers of buildings damaged and destroyed that we're seeing." Once finalized, these projections would likely make the September floods the costliest and most widespread natural disaster on record for the state. (Reuters, “Property Losses from Colorado Flood Projected at about $2 Billion.”)
Rebuilding will come next, but this will require funds. Those who have experienced significant property loss due to flood damage will need to contact their insurers along with local, state, and federal organizations that can provide them with financial and informational assistance.
Some local communities affected by the floods have already taken action, assisting residents by temporarily streamlining the bureaucratic process associated with rebuilding. The Boulder County Business Report explains that the county has made it possible for residents of Boulder and Longmont seeking permits for flood-related repairs to stop by their offices, fill out permit applications in person, and receive immediate approval. In most cases, this will cut down a typically week-long process to a matter of minutes.
Additionally, the Denver Post reports that a number of benefits designed to raise financial assistance for those affected are already being planned. Those looking for more information or wishing to offer aid to flood victims are directed to HelpColoradoNow.org. A spokesman for the organization has encouraged those who want to help to begin with their pocketbooks. "Financial support to the agencies responding to disasters is the most effective way to help as cash allows disaster agencies to purchase exactly what is needed," he notes. (Denver Post, “Benefits are Scheduled to Aid Flood Victims.”)
For those looking for further information about federal disaster aid from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an article in the Boulder Daily Camera ("What You Need to Know about Applying for FEMA Disaster Assistance") includes a helpful Q&A regarding who can apply for FEMA help and how best to contact the agency. The article also particularly reminds affected residents to document their situations with video, take photos of their belongings, and to secure receipts and invoices for damaged and missing possessions wherever possible.
Those residents most profoundly affected by the Colorado floods, including many families who have lost houses and most, if not all, of their possessions may also want to contact an attorney who specializes in insurance law. They can begin their searches for legal advice here.