by Marissa Lorenz
Grand County received notification on Friday, January 15, that President Donald Trump had granted a major disaster declaration for the State of Colorado to help communities recover from wildfires that occurred between September 6 and November 5, 2020.
The fire, which would become Colorado’s second-largest in recorded history, started on October 14 near the Big Horn Park area north of Corral Creek and burned east. It blew up in a windstorm on the night of October 21, growing over 107,000 acres in a number of hours.
By the time the fire was declared fully contained in December, it had burned 193,812 acres and destroyed over 500 structures, mostly along Highways 34 and 125.
The Major Disaster Declaration, numbered FEMA-4581-DR, triggers the release of federal funds for wildfire recovery in Grand and Larimer counties.
It designates county and local governments, non-governmental organizations, special districts, and other public entities as qualified, on a cost-sharing basis, for “financial assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.” It further qualifies all areas of the state for the Hazard Mitigation grant, intended to provide “assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards.”
“The receipt of the PDD is a ‘good next step in on the path to recovery,’” explains Grand County Emergency Manager Joel Cochran.
“The authorization from the President opens up FEMA programs that will assist Grand County in recovery from the East Troublesome Fire. We will receive technical assistance and program support to manage the debris removal on many of the impacted properties. The declaration provides for reimbursement at a 75/25% return, which will allow Grand County to maximize our financial investment.”
The disaster declaration is an important step in the County’s forward movement for recovery from the East Troublesome Fire.
“We thank the Governor and the President for their support of these much needed funds,” stated Commissioner Rich Cimino on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. “We thank the Grand County staff who will use these funds to deliver much needed recovery. And we thank the Grand County citizens for their resilience and strength. Let’s work together in unity and rebuild for our future.”
Qualified entities can apply for assistance in specified categories, including emergency work (debris removal and emergency protective measures) and permanent work (roads and bridges; water control facilities; public buildings and contents; public utilities; and parks, recreational, and other facilities).
Individual Assistance (IA) programs for affected individuals or households remains under review within the federal disaster assistance program.
For more information, refer to FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, located online at fema.gov/public-assistance-policy-and-guidance.