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Colorado’s 100-year flood, one year later

DCR_09-10-14 By the Numbers

Last year from Sept. 11-15, rain dumped on northern Colorado causing devastating flooding and mudslides. Eight lives were lost, thousands were evacuated, and when the skies cleared, 19,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed. Twenty-four counties were declared disaster areas, the hardest hit: Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver sprung into action with three disaster relief centers, established in conjunction with Catholic Charities USA, Sept. 16: St. Mary Church in Greeley, St. John the Evangelist in Loveland and Our Lady of the Valley in Windsor. There teams of employees and volunteers distributed truckloads of food, water, cleaning supplies, blankets, hygiene products, medical supplies, gift cards and coats, seven days a week for several weeks, to help get people back on their feet.

Charities’ recovery efforts continue today, according to Diane Elio, emergency assistance and disaster recovery manager—in coordination with several agencies—and will for at least two more years.

“I hope that this anniversary date is a reminder of what happened,” Elio told the Denver Catholic Register. “When the cameras quit rolling, or the next disaster happens, sometimes people can be forgotten.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” she added.

Catholic Charities of Denver has disbursed $500,000 in flood-related financial support in the last year, as well as hired extra personnel to aid recovery: 15 case managers, three supervisors, two construction managers and five administrative staffers.

“Two reasons we’ve been able to do as much as we have,” Elio said, “was the help from Catholic Charities USA and the grant with the state.”

Kim Burgo, senior director for disaster response operations with Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, Va., traveled to Colorado last September to help the local agency get operations established. Then in November, they awarded the local Charities affiliate a $1.8 million grant to provide direct assistance.

In May, Charities signed a grant agreement with the State of Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for nearly $1.9 million to help fund hiring of additional case managers.

At this point, Charities has 100 cases open with families in need of assistance. In addition, agencies they are working with—including the St. Vincent de Paul Society, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Salvation Army, United Way, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church, and county and state agencies—have 433 cases open, bringing the total to 533.

Since last September, 188 of their cases have been closed, meaning the individual or household got the help they needed or found other resources.

The biggest needs, according to Elio, are rent, mortgage and utility assistance as some struggle to maintain two households, plus debris removal and construction costs.

“Some are still couch surfing, or staying with friends or family,” Elio said of those who lost their homes. “We’re trying to relieve some of their financial stress.”

While early estimates put overall damage at $2 billion, recovery is too far from being over to know.

“We’ve still got a lot to do,” she said, adding that they are grateful to donors and supporters. “Please keep us in your prayers.”

For more information, visit www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828. Call the Catholic Charities’ Flood Recovery Hotline at 1-844-531-2345.

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Catholic Charities' staff and volunteers man a disaster relief center following devastating flooding last September.
Catholic Charities’ staff and volunteers man a disaster relief center following devastating flooding last September.

TIMELINE
Catholic Charities’ response to 2013 Front Range flooding

Sept. 11-15, 2013
A series of storms devastate northern Colorado with flooding and mudslides. Twenty four counties are declared disaster areas with Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties being hit hardest.

Sept. 16, 2013
Charities establishes three disaster relief centers, with assistance from Catholic Charities USA, at St. Mary Greeley, St. John the Evangelist Loveland, and Our Lady of the Valley in Windsor. Centers remain open seven days a week for several weeks.

November 2013
Charities awarded $1.8 million grant from Catholic Charities USA that funds staff support, counseling, financial support and long-term case management through 2016.

December 2013-January 2014
Efforts transition from flood response to flood recovery as Charities hires three case managers and gets involved in Long Term Recovery groups in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties.

May 2014
Charities awarded state grant from Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for nearly $1.9 million to support case management in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan and Weld counties through Sept. 2015.

September 2014
In the last year, Charities has disbursed about $500,000 in financial support, and continues to aid recovery efforts with 15 case managers, three case management supervisors, five administrative employees and two construction managers.

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