FEMA assistance expanded to El Paso County

By: matt steiner matt.steiner@gazette.com
September 20, 2013 Updated: September 20, 2013 at 11:55 am

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Colorado Springs officials announced Friday that El Paso County residents are now eligible for disaster assistance in connection with storms and floods that swept along the Front Range beginning Sept. 11.

FEMA representative Renee Bafalis was at the Colorado Springs Fire Department's headquarters on Printers Parkway on Friday saying her agency's grant money was being extended to more victims. Homeowners, renters and business owners in Clear Creek County, Jefferson County and El Paso County can now register with FEMA and receive help with home repairs and expenses not covered by insurance and temporary housing. Low-interest loans will also be made available by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

El Paso County was tapped for the assistance after the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and FEMA completed damage assessments in the area. Prior to Friday, Adams, Boulder, Larimercqand Weld were the only counties in which individuals were eligible for FEMA money.

Bret Waters, of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, said the city has been pushing for FEMA's support since last week.

"We've had a damage assessment plan in place for years," Waters said. "That played a key role in making our case to FEMA."

Colorado Springs was pounded by rain Sept. 12 as flash floods struck several parts of the city. Cars were stranded along roadways and homes were flooded. Cheyenne Creekspilled over its banks as water poured down the mountains in southwest part of town. Fort Carson reported 10 to 13 inches of rain on the U.S. Army base as sever "new lakes" formed, according to base officials.

Waters and Bafalis said anyone who thinks they have flood damage to home or business should first register with FEMA before going to a disaster assistance center. Bafalis pointed to disasterassistance.gov for online registration. To register by phone, people need to call 800-621-3362.

A disaster assistance center opened Friday morning at Canon Elementary School, 1201 W. Cheyenne Rd., in western Colorado Springs. The center will open again at 9 a.m. Saturday and close at 6 p.m. both days. FEMA and other agencies that include the American Red Cross, the United Way, Colorado Springs Public Works Department, Colorado Springs Utilities and El Paso County Public Health are at the assistance center to help residents. For more information call 385-4636.

According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, more than $8 million in disaster grants are available for private homeowners, renters and business owners.

Bafalis did not put a cap on FEMA assistance at Friday's press conference.

"Every person's situation is different," she said.

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