Colorado sees few FEMA denials on disaster aid

Posted at 4:58 PM, Oct 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-15 18:58:58-04

DENVER (AP) — Since 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid more than $405 million to help Colorado recover from various natural disasters, ranging from destructive wildfires to severe winter storms.

FEMA approved 788 funding requests over that period and denied money for just three requests that had gone through an appeals process, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

FEMA denied about $764,000 in Colorado disaster requests — all involving the September 2013 flood that struck along the Front Range.

In some states, FEMA has denied appeals for tens of millions of dollars in applications for disaster help.

The biggest Colorado disaster in terms of FEMA aid was the 2013 flood when heavy rain turned many creeks and rivers into deadly torrents. Historic flooding occurred along six major rivers and tributaries.

Larimer, Boulder and Weld counties were among the hardest hit. Eight people died and some 3,000 people had to be rescued. About 20,000 homes were destroyed or damaged.

FEMA awarded the state some $348.5 million to 214 entities that sought aid and reimbursement for costs associated with the 2013 flood.

Three applications, totaling about $764,000, for FEMA help were denied by the agency, or 0.2 percent of total money awarded for the flood disaster.

Of the $764,000, nearly $514,000 involved a request from the city of Boulder for removal of debris that FEMA determined wasn’t eligible because the city failed to show the debris posted an “immediate threat.”

The city of Lyons was denied $114,877 it sought for pay and benefits for permanent employees doing emergency protective work that FEMA said wasn’t eligible for compensation.

And Weld County was denied $135,400 for gravel pit repair work that FEMA said was the responsibility of a private contractor.

One appeal of a FEMA denial is still pending from the 2013 floods. It involves the small Big Elk Meadows community near Lyons.

No other disaster in Colorado had appeals denied by FEMA on record.