7:01am

Wed February 12, 2014
Colorado Flood

Flooded Mobile Homes Languish As Evans Struggles For Clean Up Funding

There are 208 private mobile homes in Evans seemingly frozen in time. Ravaged by the September flood and now abandoned, the city was counting on Federal Emergency Management Agency money for clean up. The agency turned down that request in a letter sent in November.

Nathan Heffel reports for Morning Edition

That’s left Evans with a potential cleanup cost of $1 million, money that the city doesn’t have. Now they’re looking for a solution.

“We have exhausted everything at our disposal,” Evans Mayor Lyle Achziger said. “We had a plan and we have followed everything that we’ve been taught through this whole process, to contact all of the various state and federal agencies, go through the processes and everything and we’ve done it.”

“That was our plan and now we’ve hit a brick wall because we’ve been denied at every turn.”

The bar for approving government reimbursement for debris removal on private property like the Bella Vista and Eastwood Village mobile home parks is very high. While a potential eye sore and source of odor, the damaged mobile home parks don’t reach the level of urgency needed for federal funding notes FEMA representative Ed Conley.

Debris sits stacked up and snow covered near a home in the Eastwood Village mobile home park in Evans, Colo.
Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC

“I think the first step is would we even consider this something that would be eligible under FEMA programs and we don’t,” Conley said. “There has to be, widespread economic impact to the community, like you saw in a catastrophic event like a Katrina or a Joplin tornado.”

The Weld County Department of Public Health And Environment has inspected both mobile home parks and recommends they be designated a public nuisance. Evans City Manager Aden Hogan said at a hastily called news conference that if something’s not done soon there could be a very real public health risk.

“I suspect we have about 40 maybe 60 days at the most before the weather warms up enough that we then have a secondary disaster in our community,” Hogan said. “And we are very concerned about that.”

Once the thaw arrives, food left abandoned in pantries and refrigerators will begin to rot. Raw sewage and household chemicals and debris currently frozen will begin to putrefy. Mold will become widespread.

That raises concerns about rodent infestation and the spread of disease.

The city of Evans plans to contest FEMA’s decision, they’ve also reached out to Governor John Hickenlooper for help. In a letter, his office says it will advocate on behalf of the city to FEMA.

But as of yet, the state itself has pledged zero dollars to fund the clean up process.

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