State government provides relief to wildfire victims
Gov. Jared Polis has signed a new landmark bill into law to provide unprecedented financial relief to wildfire survivors of East Troublesome Fire and other Colorado fires. The law allows communities to responsibly invest funds to give first responders more tools to fight these fires in the immediate future, helping prevent small flames from becoming destructive wildfires. The law was sponsored by Senate President Steve Fenberg and Rep. Judy Amabile.
“Coloradans displaced by the Marshall Fire, East Troublesome Fire and other wildfire disasters are not alone; the state is stepping up to help Coloradans rebuild and protect our communities from destructive wildfires,” said Amabile. “These resources, along with the insurance reforms we passed this year, will help Coloradans impacted by recent fires rebuild their lives and protect homeowners from unanticipated gaps in their insurance coverage. This significant investment will boost our state’s emergency response efforts, mitigate damage caused by natural disasters, prepare Colorado for our changing climate and a year-round fire season, and connect Coloradans to the services and relief they need after a destructive fire.”
The law establishes two programs to help communities recover and rebuild after natural disasters. Fifteen million dollars will go to the Disaster Resilience Rebuilding Program to provide loans and grants to homeowners, businesses and local governments to rebuild. Additionally, the law allocates $20 million to the Disaster Recovery and Resilience Program to provide loans and grants to homeowners, businesses, and local governments to cover costs related to rebuilding more resilient and energy efficient homes and structures.
The bill also creates the Office of Climate Preparedness in the Governor’s office, which will coordinate disaster recovery efforts to better respond to natural disaster emergencies and develops a climate preparedness roadmap to ensure Colorado is better prepared for future climate-induced disasters.
“We are stepping in to provide much-needed support to help Coloradans rebuild stronger and more resiliently. We are taking action to prepare for and prevent wildfires, and making sure that Coloradans know that they are never alone when facing the challenge of rebuilding after a fire,” said Polis. “This important support, which includes grants for low- and middle-income residents and low-interest loans for higher income residents, helps to fill the gap left by underinsurance, letting Coloradans know that you can count on our state to help as we continue to build our robust toolkit of resources to prepare for, prevent, and respond to wildfires.”
Through the Disaster Resilience Rebuilding Program, applicants can apply for grants and loans up to $50,000 depending on different qualifying factors. The program hopes to support rebuilding safer, energy efficient structures that can better withstand future natural disasters. Those who are interested can visit the Boulder County Recovery Navigators site and the Disaster Resilience Rebuilding site to find all of the details regarding qualifications, determining factors, applicable fund uses and required information.
“Our climate is changing whether we like it or not, and we’re seeing more frequent and more destructive natural disasters such as wildfires as a result,” said Fenberg. “We’re working to prepare for and mitigate future climate-induced disasters and to improve our response to the destruction left in their wake. The new support we’re offering this year will make the rebuilding and insurance processes less burdensome and help folks who have been hit by natural disasters get back on their feet. These new programs, alongside the new Office of Climate Preparedness, will help us better coordinate our response and ensure we’re as prepared as possible when the next disaster strikes.”
Eligible applicants for the first phase of funding include persons who owned a disaster-damaged home as their primary residence at the time of the state-declared disaster. Those nine state-declared disasters include:
- 2018 Spring Creek Fire, San Juan and La Plata Counties
- 2018 Chateau Fire, Teller County
- 2018 Lake Christine Fire, Eagle County
- 2019 Avalanche Debris and Flooding Risk, Hinsdale County
- 2020 Cameron Peak Fire, Larimer County
- 2020 East Troublesome Fire, Grand County
- 2020 Calwood Fire, Boulder County
- 2021 Muddy Slide Fire, Routt County
- 2022 Marshall Fire and Straight-Line Winds, Boulder County
The application and list will be available in August or early September. Program staff are developing a single application and a single, comprehensive list of background documents necessary to apply for Disaster Resilience Rebuilding funds, as well as other funds that may be available to those impacted by the state-declared disasters. To get started, Coloradans may begin compiling the following:
- Government issued identification, proof of ownership of the property current and back to the date of the state declared disaster (e.g., title and/or property tax record).
- Proof of residency in the property on the date of the state declared disaster (e.g., utility bills). Proof of income for adults in the home (e.g., pay stubs, bank statements showing pay deposits, social security/disability/retirement fund statements, or self-owned business account statements).
- Home/hazard Insurance claim/disbursement letter/check, (If a federally declared disaster) FEMA award/denial letter and disbursement statement.
- (If a federally declared disaster, and applicable) SBA award/denial letter and disbursement statement.
- Documentation of any other loans/grants/gifts received as financial assistance for rebuilding of the home.
- Documentation of rebuilding or repair cost estimates received from contractors.
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