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Wednesday is last day for Marshall Fire victims to sign up for FEMA, SBA disaster assistance

Debris removal delayed, officials asking SBA to increase regional multiplier
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Posted at 12:20 PM, Mar 01, 2022

DENVER – Wednesday is the deadline for people who had their homes lost or damaged in the Marshall Fire to apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Small Business Administration.

Affected residents can apply for the federal assistance through the end of the day Wednesday, according to state and federal officials.

Residents who lost their homes or had them damaged in the straight-line wind event or fire can apply for individual assistance through FEMA. The program can provide financial and other services to people affected by the Marshall Fire, especially the many households that were underinsured before the fire.

As of Sunday, 3,280 people or households had registered for individual assistance FEMA, and more than $3 million in Individual Household Program, Housing Assistance, and Other Needs Assistance had already been disbursed. Another $3+ million for those programs have been approved, according to the state.

The SBA has received 1,789 home loan applications and another 191 business applications. Four hundred sixty-six SBA home loans have been approved worth nearly $75 million, while 25 business loans have been approved to the tune of $4.1 million.

  • People who still need to apply for assistance through FEMA or the SBA have several options:
  • Call the FEMA help line (800-621-3362) between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Visit the Disaster Recovery Center (1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. FEMA officials are on site.
  • Go to DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Download the FEMA phone app.

"Although the application period closes on March 2, eligible applicants will continue to have access to FEMA programs through the end of the period of assistance (not to exceed 18 months from date of declaration)," the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a joint release with FEMA. "Other federal, state, and voluntary agencies will also continue to work with disaster survivors to assist in their recovery efforts."

Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann said during a city council study session Tuesday morning that she has appealed to Colorado’s congressional delegation to push the SBA to change the regional multiplier for the area that helps determine the gaps the SBA can fill beyond what insurance covers.

Both FEMA and the SBA have said they will not duplicate benefits covered by people’s insurance, and Stolzmann said the agencies have been working hard to fill those gaps beyond the coverage.

The agencies do a calculation to estimate what the rebuilding costs will be, using standardized tables across the country and applying a regional multiplier taking into account the cost of homes and business real estate in the area.

“The numbers coming in are very low for our region, from our perspective,” Stolzmann said.

She said though the congressional delegation is working on trying to get the SBA to change the multiplier, there was no guarantee the agency would, and it could take time, she warned.

But she said if people get their applications in by Wednesday’s deadline, they will be in the timeframe to potentially receive benefits if the multiplier is changed even if their claim is initially denied.

“Even if they tell you [that] you get nothing from the SBA or tell you the application is withdrawn … as long as you get in by the deadline, it can be reconsidered within six months,” Stolzmann said. “…We’ve been working on this for over a month, but if we get it resolved in the next few weeks, we’d put out an informational blast to people so they know how to submit for reconsideration.”

But she added there would be “no point” submitting for reconsideration for people whose claims are denied or come in low unless the regional table is changed.

“I’d just ask folks to hang tight while we work on this issue,” Stolzmann said.

Debris removal in Louisville, Superior and Boulder County has also been delayed for possibly “a couple of weeks,” Louisville City Manager Jeff Durbin said Tuesday, as three appeals have been filed against the debris removal contract signed with a Louisiana company in February.

One of the appeals confirmed by Denver7 comes from a nonprofit registered in late January called “Demanding Integrity in Government Spending,” which claims county commissioners improperly convened executive sessions to talk about the contract.

According to a filing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, Michael Brown, the former FEMA administrator under President George W. Bush and current 630 KHOW talk radio host, is behind the group.

The judges on the 20th Judicial District bench have recused themselves from the lawsuit.

Boulder County commissioners responded to the lawsuit on Wednesday, saying they are frustrated and dismayed by the lawsuit and that they do not believe bid review committees have ever been viewed as local public bodies subject to open meetings and public records laws.

“The County isn't happy about this delay,” said Commissioner Matt Jones. “We did everything properly to comply with the law, and we are confident we’ll prevail against this lawsuit. We will be responding as expeditiously as possible with the hope that the courts will resolve the lawsuit quickly. Marshall Fire survivors are waiting for debris removal to happen. Our awarded contractor is ready to go and is lining up subcontractors to perform cleanup work. It’s frustrating that anyone would want to delay our community’s ability to recover from this devastating wildfire.”

Durbin told Denver7 the delay in rebuilding, which officials had originally expected to begin Tuesday in line with the company’s promises, “is incredibly frustrating to our community.”

He said in Tuesday morning’s council session that he remains optimistic the delay will only be a “couple weeks” but it could be longer.

A meeting that had been scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the debris removal program in Boulder County was canceled Tuesday afternoon because of the pending legal action, the county said.

Boulder County said some of the information that officials had been set to share with residents "cannot be finalized until current legal matters are resolved."

The county said it wants the meeting to be public so residents' questions can get answered, and that it will reschedule the meeting when that is possible.

"Boulder County remains hopeful that work will still be completed in July," the county said in a news release.