Colorado Delegation Requests HUD to Expedite Flood Recovery Assistance

CDBG Funds Would Supplement Other Available Assistance

Washington, DC – The Colorado Congressional delegation today urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expedite assistance for rebuilding efforts after the recent floods that devastated communities along Colorado’s Front Range. The lawmakers wrote to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan asking him to make disaster recovery funds available through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, which would supplement assistance already provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

In a letter to Secretary Donovan, the lawmakers wrote, “Although FEMA and the Small Business Administration are making assistance available to families whose homes and properties have been destroyed, badly damaged or rendered inaccessible, we know these resources, while critical to the recovery effort, will not completely fill the void. Thousands of Colorado homeowners will need more help.  Because so many of the homes impacted by the flooding were not in a high-risk flood area, we anticipate that a large percentage of the homeowners affected will not have flood insurance. Because regular home-insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage, many homeowners will have limited non-governmental options available to finance repair and replacement costs.”

The CDBG Disaster Recovery Program makes federal resources available to rebuild communities affected by disasters, particularly in communities and neighborhoods that may struggle to recover due to limited resources. CDBG funds can be used to aid recovery efforts involving housing, economic development, infrastructure and prevention of further damage to affected areas. Among other uses, the funding could potentially help supplement repair and replacement costs for the thousands of Colorado homeowners impacted by the floods.

Members of the Colorado delegation have worked since the flooding began to ensure Colorado communities and agencies have every federal resource they need to save lives, protect homes and start the recovery process.  Yesterday, Colorado's senators introduced a bill that would lift the cap on emergency funds that can be used for infrastructure-related expenses, ensuring Coloradans had access to crucial resources for recovery efforts.  Colorado's members of the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to introduce bipartisan companion legislation.  That bill followed last week’s delegation effort urging the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to lift the cap.

Click here to view the letter or read below:

Dear Secretary Donovan:

We write to urge the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to allocate Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to help Colorado rebuild and recover from the unprecedented and lethal flooding that devastated over a dozen counties along Colorado’s Front Range. We understand HUD currently has over $9 billion in unallocated CDBG-DR funds. In the wake of last week’s catastrophic disaster, our state needs HUD to move expeditiously to make funding available to Coloradans.

As you know, historic levels of rain fell on Colorado during the week of September 9th.  These rains resulted in flooding, destruction, and tragedy on an unprecedented scale.  At least ten Coloradans are confirmed or presumed dead.  Over 18,000 people were evacuated, many by helicopter, in the largest aerial rescue operation for a U.S. disaster since Hurricane Katrina. 

The scale of damage is overwhelming.  Based on the latest estimates, over 17,000 homes were seriously damaged and over 4,000 were completely destroyed. Over 10,000 Coloradans have already registered for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance and we expect thousands more to apply in the weeks to come. Emergency officials are just now beginning to measure the magnitude of this disaster. 

Governor Hickenlooper determined these floods are of such severity and magnitude that additional supplementary federal assistance is necessary to help address needs not being covered by existing resources.  President Obama agreed, and on September 14, he declared a major disaster in Colorado, activating individual assistance and public assistance to support Colorado families and communities.

Although FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA) are making assistance available to families whose homes and properties have been destroyed, badly damaged or rendered inaccessible, we know these resources, while critical to the recovery effort, will not completely fill the void. Thousands of Colorado homeowners will need more help.  Because so many of the homes impacted by the flooding were not in a high-risk flood area, we anticipate that a large percentage of the homeowners affected will not have flood insurance. Because regular home-insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage, many homeowners will have limited non-governmental options available to finance repair and replacement costs.

Given this background, HUD’s CDBG-DR funds can play a critical role, helping to supplement the long recovery and rebuilding process that hundreds of communities are just beginning.  We ask you to work with Governor Hickenlooper and the affected communities, and act as quickly as possible to begin allocating CDBG-DR funding to Colorado. 

We thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request.

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Congressman Gardner is a member in the U.S. House of Representatives serving Colorado's 4th Congressional District. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the following Subcommittees: Communications and Technology, Energy and Power, and Oversight and Investigations.

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