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HUD Releases Millions For Flood Ravaged Communities

Joshua Polson
Greeley Tribune
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Some good news for towns hit hardest by September’s flooding. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced availability of nearly $63 million in federal recovery funds to help individuals and communities rebuild.

The secretary made the announcement Thursday while touring Lyons and parts of Evans with Governor John Hickenlooper and the state’s Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.

“The Community Development Block Grant is really aimed at long term recovery,” Donovan said. “It’s there to fill the gaps to rebuild homes, rebuild small businesses to rebuild infrastructure. And my job is going to be helping on that long term re-building.”

Governor John Hickenlooper says while the funds are allocated, they've not yet been distributed.

“It’s the most flexible money that the federal government can provide,” Hickenlooper said. Where the money actually goes will be decided by local leaders and elected officials.

“We want to make sure that the decision doesn't come out of a small group of people in Denver,” the Governor said. “We’re reaching out to county commissioners, who've done such an incredible job so far, and to mayors; who have done an equally impressive job, that they’re making the decision.”

Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC
Communities in Boulder, Larimer and Weld Counties will have the most access to the $63 million in HUD funding. A whirlpool near a flooded subdivision in Greeley at the height of the flooding in September.

Funding is desperately needed in areas like Evans and other parts of Weld County devastated by floodwater. Judy Knapp, President of the Community Foundation of Greeley and Weld County says her organization has raised over a million dollars in conjunction with the United Way of Weld County to help those in need, but requests have actually totaled more than $3 million.

“There’s a lot of need that has not been met yet,” said Knapp.”We’re really hoping to see some assistance coming in from the federal government that will help some of the people really get back and put their lives together because we know still a lot that have not finalized.”

The funding for the block grants was created by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 signed into law after Superstorm Sandy. Senator Bennet along with Udall lobbied Secretary Donovan and to release some of those funds to Colorado.

“What made that possible was not just [Secretary Donovan's] ability, but because Colorado has presented such a unified front here,” Bennet said. “The local officials, as the governor was saying, the mayors, the county commissioners, the people running nonprofits citizens themselves coming together to help each other out and to make sure we have a coordinated approach, at the end of the day that’s what made it possible to get this accelerated funding in the hope that there will be more money behind it.”

The funds should be distributed once a series of disaster action plans are established by the state. Those will describe exactly how the funds will support disaster recovery. From there Donovan says HUD will review the plans and then begin distributing the vital resources.

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