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State Jobs Program To Address Flood Recovery Needs

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner/Released
Although temporary road repairs are complete, much more recovery work remains in Colorado

Thanks to a $4.6 million federal grant, Colorado is launching a program to hire temporary workers to provide cleanup and recovery work following September’s devastating floods. 

The U.S. Department of Labor is providing the funds that will get the Flood Recovery Jobs Program off the ground. Primarily a program for those displaced by the flooding, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will use the program to hire about 230 temporary workers for a variety of missions across the flood-ravaged counties.

"We’ve been working closely at the state level to coordinate with the Governor’s office and the state of Colorado recovery office to make sure that we are an integral part of the long-term recovery effort for the floods," says Jennifer Wilson, grant and technical writer with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. "We currently have, right now, six work sites that are approved – those are in Larimer and Weld counties; and we have our first five participants enrolled in the program."

The workload will be especially demanding in Weld and Larimer counties, which were both heavily impacted. Wilson says the approach in each will be largely driven by the local government’s assessment of the greatest needs.

"So when you look at Larimer County, there’s going to be a lot of work through conservation core model -- to get people out and doing a lot of work, basically with chainsaws, to remove debris from public lands," Wilson says.

The picture is a bit different in Weld County, which is focusing more on humanitarian assistance.

"They had a trailer park in the city of Evans that was very heavily impacted, and had some families displaced as a result of that," says Wilson. "So they have placed a homeless liaison with the Weld-Evans school district to help with students whose families have been impacted. They have also placed a participant at the Weld county food bank to assist with delivery of aid to families that were affected."

The Flood Recovery Jobs Program is prioritizing the sites where workers are most needed. It is currently active in nine of the counties FEMA designated as eligible for public assistance.

"It's an effort to allow people who have been displaced because of the floods to have money coming in, to be able to assist their communities, or for long-term unemployed individuals to gain some work experience."

Wages of up to $12,000 per person for six months of work will be available through the program, which will primarily target those impacted directly by the flooding, as well as veterans, seasonal farm workers, and the long-term unemployed. Coloradans interested in participating should check with their local workforce center.

It makes sense to hire people on a short-term basis, Wilson says, because flood recovery needs are temporary.

"It’s an effort to allow people who have been displaced because of the floods to have money coming in, to be able to assist their communities, or for long-term unemployed individuals to gain some work experience," Wilson says. "It’s really looking at two different fronts: that augmented capacity to meet the emerging needs, and then also giving people who need these experiences or the support, the opportunity to earn it."

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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