Colorado feels effects of major back-to-back natural disasters

Red Cross, FEMA and insurance adjusters deploy
Posted at 9:52 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 16:54:11-04

DENVER -- As the devastation in Texas following Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey unfolds hundreds of miles away, Coloradans are feeling the effects of it all. So many groups of volunteers, different agencies, first responders and even insurance adjusters have deployed to Texas and are now gearing up to head to Florida, as Hurricane Irma approaches the mainland.

Gino Grecko, the CEO of the Colorado and Wyoming area Red Cross told Denver7 this type of natural disaster occurrence requires an all hands on deck type of response.

"This is really an unusual circumstance to have two storms of this magnitude hitting so quickly upon one another. We still had 16,000 people in shelters in or around the Texas area," said Grecko.

Colorado and Wyoming-based volunteers are part of the 3,000 boots currently on the ground in Texas, after Harvey. As they continue to help serve a million meals on a regular basis, now the Red Cross has to pivot and move resources to the east.

"We are already pre-positioning people and supplies in and around Florida, actually Orlando, so we can be ready to go shelter up to 120,000 people in Florida if needed,” said Grecko.

That's where public adjuster Matt Behrens expects to hear from new clients.

Just like the Red Cross, he's already busy from Tropical Storm Harvey's aftermath through his business C3 Adjusters, a public adjuster’s firm.

"There's only so many insurance adjusters. There's only so much federal funds, federal resources. Its taxing on the system."

He doesn't work for insurance companies, but instead works for the families, companies or property owners trying to pick up the pieces after a natural disaster like a flood or hurricane, or even severe weather like hail.

"We can help families get into different housing. We can help with mitigation. We can set them up with contractors…really help them get started the right path."

And when you have millions of people possibly affected, resources could be low. So back at the Red Cross, a resource as simple as your time could be the most valuable.

"They'll go help in a shelter and make sure people have care, comfort or hope in either Texas or Florida at this point," said Grecko.

The Red Cross is in need of volunteers in the wake of these two storms. If you are interested, visit the website to sign up and start the training process.

FEMA is also dealing with reorganizing or moving resources as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida.

Right now 28 percent of the Colorado FEMA team is in Texas for Harvey.

According to FEMA Region 8 Media spokesperson Stacie Greff, an emergency fund was activated to help both disasters. Right now, the FEMA regions closest to Florida are staging teams until they get the go ahead to move in.

On Wednesday, there were emergency declarations granted to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida.

“As Congress and the Administration work on overall funding, FEMA will continue to do its job and provide support to states and locals,” said Greff.