LAFAYETTE — Stacey Hanna and her husband Lysle Dirrim still looked shell-shocked Monday, four days after losing their home of 15 years in Louisville to the Marshall fire.
The couple showed up at Boulder County's disaster assistance center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at the “Southeast County Hub” building at 1755 S. Public Road, Lafayette.
“We’ve never asked for help before,” Hanna said.
“We kind of felt guilty even asking,” Dirrim said.
They still hadn’t seen what’s left of their house in the Coal Creek neighborhood. They had enough time to grab their two laptop computers, some medicine and their dogs Monkey and Stella as they fled from the flames. They’ve been staying at the Residence Inn in Longmont.
“The things of value we lost that can’t be replaced are the photos and family heirlooms,” Dirrim said. “A lot of people are in the same situation.”
They contacted their insurance company Monday morning. At the center, they were getting information about how to get assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and how to apply for low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration that are available to homeowners, nonprofits and businesses impacted by the fire. They also came to the center to get food for their dogs.
The center has been inundated with offers of aid. Though Disaster Recovery Manager Garry Sanfacon said donations were appreciated, officials couldn’t store them at the center.
He estimated about 300 people had already visited the center by midday Monday.
“We’re asking people to please take care of themselves and their families first,” Sanfacon said.
Victims need to sign up for FEMA assistance and call their insurance company, he said. He urged people to check the Boulder County website for information about the center, and also where volunteer help and donations can best be directed.
“This is just the first day,” Sanfacon said. “You don’t need to come here right away. Take care of yourself first. … This is going to be going on for a long time — it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Jon Huss, deputy federal coordinating officer for FEMA, said victims can register for FEMA assistance at the center, or they can do it online.
“This is a place for survivors to go and have human interaction with FEMA, ask questions face-to-face, register or drop off forms,” Huss said.
Victims can also call FEMA at 800-621-3362 to register, or get information about assistance.
“These things usually take more time to set up, but the biggest reason we were able to open so early is because of our partners in Boulder County opening this center so early and giving us the space,” Huss said.