Colorado’s flood-recovery chief says there are yawning gaps in the funding available and the funding needed to help home and business owners trying to rebound from the September deluges. As many as 26,000 flood victims have applied for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which usually gives out about $6,000 in flood aid.
“But many people are getting much less,” said Jerre Stead, appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in September as the state’s chief recovery officer.
Stead said his most important job is to listen carefully to the victims of the flooding to make sure they get the resources, and money, to get back to their lives.
“They’ve got to know people care about them, that they are being heard,” said the 70-year-old.
Through the work of local, state and federal recovery teams, as well as the website http://ColoradoUnited.com, information about help is filtering out to people in 24 counties nearly washed away by floodwaters, Stead said.
That help includes raising nearly $12 million for housing for flood victims through groups such as United Way and Red Cross.
About $46 million has been approved for Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans for about 1,000 homeowners and 121 business, primarily in Boulder, Weld and Larimer counties, he said.
Still, one the biggest problems facing recovery efforts is that officials are still assessing the damage, Stead said. For instance, the toll on the state’s farms and ranches is just now being tallied.
But it’s known that 1,200 farms were impacted by the floods, including 32,000 acres of cropland.
“Piece by piece, we are getting things together, making progress,” Stead said. “But these numbers change daily as we get further and further into the recovery.”
Stead, an Iowa native, has been the executive chairman at Englewood-based IHS since December 2000, a job he took shortly after retiring as the top executive at Ingram Micro. He also has held top jobs at AT&T, Honeywell, Square D and Legent. Stead took over as CEO of IHS in September 2006. The company is a Douglas County provider of information and analysis to businesses and governments across the globe.
In September, Hickenlooper praised Stead as one of the more talented executives in the state, saying “Jerre was really sent from heaven to do this task.”
Stead and his staff are not being paid for their work, which has included touring flood-ravaged areas of the state.
He found the cooperation among local, state and federal agencies heartening, which is helping speed the rebuilding. At least 78 percent of the state’s roadways are now open, and he’s confident the rest will be ready for use by Dec. 1.
“It’s amazing the work being done out there,” Stead said.