By Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor
Dateline: Sunday, September 22, 10 a.m.
Friday afternoon (September 20) Mayor Julie Van Domelen led Colorado State Senator Rollie Heath, his wife Josie from the Boulder Community Foundation (the umbrella organization for the Lyons Community Foundation), Colorado State Representative Jonathan Singer, and Foothills United Way CEO/President Doug Yeiser on a information gathering tour of the flood damage to the Town of Lyons.
They toured Meadow Park, some businesses and homes, and the bridges and roads. The devastation is unimaginable until you see it first hand.
While inspecting the Second Avenue Bridge, they met a friend and neighbor in rubber boots, shovel in hand, and a haggard-lost look of shock on her face hauling wet carpet and ruined dry wall out to the curb. Mayor Van Domelen told the officials, this is the problem we are dealing with; she should be sitting on the curb sobbing over her loss while a crew of able-bodied volunteers muck out her home and take care of the clean up and debris removal. This put a “human face” on the disaster, and all four officials asked Van Domelen, “What do you need? What can we do?”
Van Domelen told Yeiser we need someone other than Town Staff (who are busy with tons of other details) who can screen the groups of volunteers from all over the country to ensure that they are legit, competent, and insured, and then set up a system to assess needs, and assign tasks to teams. By five p.m., when the Mayor had returned from a helicopter fly-over of the town and surrounding area to get a “total picture,” Yeiser had filled the bill. He had contacted helpcoloradonow.org, an organization that screens volunteer organizations with humanitarian objectives and arranged to have Team Rubicon (a volunteer group of retired U.S. military personal; the team went to Haiti after the earthquake) to come in the next morning, Saturday, September 21, do assessments of the hardest hit residential areas, draw up cleanup strategies, and assign work projects to work crews. By the end of the day, they had done 100 assessments. On Monday, Team Rubicon will return to continue their assessments (possibly including some of the businesses) and Foothills United Way will also be bringing in other vetted volunteer groups to work with Team Rubicon on the cleanup aspect.
A few important things to remember; 1. No clean up will or should be started until the owner of the property has had a chance to have their own insurance inspector visit and do their own investigation; 2, Homeowners are free to have a private contractor do the cleanup if they prefer, as long as the contractor first gets the proper credentials from the Town of Lyons at the FEMA Disaster Center at Twin Peaks Mall. The Town of Lyons’ objective is to have all residences in Lyons “construction ready” (debris removed, cleaned up, mold mitigation, etc.) within six to eight weeks (weather permitting).
Lyons resident Ed Kean will be the “on the ground local co-coordinator” for this monumental task. He will be there to assure residents that these crews are legit (and avoid another post-hailstorm experience with a dozen different unknown roofing companies soliciting for your business). If you haven’t had your house assessed by Team Rubicon by end-of-day Monday, September 23, please leave your name and address on a sign-up sheet at the new Town Hall located in Lyons Elementary School library. The assessments are done on a most-in-need basis, so those not dealing with significant damage must be patient.
The Mayor says Team Rubicon members will be easily recognized by their polite, competent, military demeanor, and the red and white logos on their shirts.