CWCB bumps flood relief funds to $40 million, 77% of damaged roadways now back in service #COflood

Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras
Surfing Boulder Creek September 2013 via @lauras

Here’s the release from the CWCB (Todd Harman):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board this week increased to $40 million the funds available for low-interest loans to help irrigators and other water users start repairing flood damaged systems, an increase from the $15 million it had designated earlier this month.

The CWCB has also approved the first round of loans, for a total of $12 million. The loans carry a 30-year term with no interest and no payments the first three years. The loans were distributed to 10 irrigation and ditch companies for emergency repairs of diversion structures and ditch systems and ranged in amount from $202,000 to the Boulder and Larimer County Irrigating and Manufacturing Ditch Company to $3.3 million for the Left Hand Ditch Company.

“These repairs are a critical part of recovery from the September floods and the CWCB will continue providing loans and taking other proactive steps to get irrigators, farmers and water suppliers back on their feet,” said CWCB director James Eklund. “We thank the board for its far-sighted and quick action in directing these loans to these important projects.”

Other loans approved as part of the $12 million package include: Highland Ditch Company ($2 million); Rough and Ready Irrigating Ditch Company ($1.8 million); Oligarchy Irrigation Company ($1.3 million); Big Thompson and Platte River Ditch Company ($800,000); Ish Reservoir Company ($207,000); Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Company ($1.6 million); Church Ditch Water Authority ($606,000); and North Poudre Irrigation Company ($482,000). For more information about the CWCB 2013 Flood Event Emergency Loan program, including eligible projects, go here.

The increase in loan funds for affected water providers follows a grant of $1.8 million to the South Platte Basin Roundtable for flood-impacted infrastructure recovery. More information on that grant is available here.

Board actions this week included approval to repurpose the remaining balance of the watershed restoration program (at least $400,000) to address flood-damaged streams needing restoration. The Board also adopted a policy supporting wise rebuilding practices and reinforcing previous Board-approved higher floodplain management standards. This will help Colorado to become more flood resilient for present and future generations. Many flood stricken communities have contacted staff for assistance with adopting higher standards. Other communities have expressed a strong interest in joining the National Flood Insurance Program.

In related action, the CWCB is partnering with FEMA and local governments to obtain 4,600 square miles of digital imagery and topographic mapping in the flood-impacted areas of the South Platte basin. This information can be used to assess or generate updated flood hazard mapping.

From the Boulder iJournal:

Roughly 77 percent of Colorado roadways damaged by the historic September floods are now open, Gov. John Hickenlooper said today.

In a news release, the governor noted that 491 of the state’s flood-impacted bridges have been inspected, only 120 need repair; FEMA has approved $43.9 million in individual assistance; The Small Business Administration has approved $29 million low-interest disaster loans; The Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program cap was raised to $450 million; The Colorado Water Conservation Board increased to $40 million the funds available to help repair water systems and approved $12 million in loans this week.

Another accomplishment the governor highlighted is The Office of Vital Statistics and local vital records offices have issued 254 free birth certificates and waived the correction fee for 12 certificates — meaning families affected by the floods saved a total of $4,800 in fees.

Residents of Fremont and Morgan counties whose homes or businesses were damaged in the floods now are eligible for individual assistance from FEMA. Also, eight additional counties are eligible for FEMA public assistance: Arapahoe, Crowley, Denver, Fremont, Gilpin, Lake, Lincoln and Sedgwick.

Government workers have been busy.

More than 1,600 people in Colorado — comprised of members from FEMA, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, the National Guard from Colorado, Kansas, Montana and Utah, the Army Corp of Engineers, IHS and other technical and service providers — are working on recovery efforts across the state.

The Colorado Department of Transportation facilitated two telephone town halls to discuss progress on repairs, access to personal property and county roads. The U.S. 34 call on Oct. 10 had more than 3,600 participants and on Oct. 22 there were 650 participants on a Coal Creek Canyon call.

Additionally, in its first week, officials said more than 8,0000 people accessed the ColoradoUnited.com website to get information and resources related to the flood recovery. The ColoradoUnited team has provided the promised 24-hour response to 57 inquiries received via the Contact Us page.

More flooding coverage from Jessica Maher writing for the Loveland Reporter-Herald. Here’s an excerpt:

At the annual Colorado Municipal League District 2 meeting that focused largely on the Northern Colorado flood, its impacts and how communities have worked together since, [Governor Hickenlooper] praised local officials for the speed and ease with which recovery has progressed. When he speaks to other governors who have experienced disasters in their states, Hickenlooper said they are amazed by the progress that has been made in just more than six weeks…

In an unprecedented move, the state has committed to covering half of a local government’s share for rebuilding damaged infrastructure. The federal government usually covers 75 percent of costs, which for the city of Loveland are expected to exceed $20 million.

Hickenlooper said that the state’s large reserves have enabled the state to pay the share of the local match, and the governor has made another pledge to small communities who may struggle with the local match for infrastructure rebuilding. For communities that use TABOR reserves for the local match and then find that reserve depleted, the state will help out, he said.

“At that point the state will step in and pay 100 percent,” Hickenlooper said. “They’re going to be way over their head, we’re going to find a way to get them through.”

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