What could bring a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, two United States Senators, the Governor, a State Representative, a Boulder County Commissioner, the Mayors of several area municipalities, as well as Lyons
own Mayor (not to mention camera crews from the Denver network affiliates, and reporters from the Denver Post) to Lyons on a very cold Thursday morning? I can think of sixty-three million reasons.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan was in Lyons last Thursday morning (December 5) to announce a grant of nearly sixty-three million dollars to the State of Colorado to help communities recover from severe storms in September that produced devastating floods and mudslides. The recovery funds are provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to support long-term disaster recovery efforts in areas with the greatest extent of “unmet need,” primarily in Boulder, Weld and Larimer Counties. Donovan joined Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet to make the announcement and tour recovery efforts here in Lyons.
“Today, we make an initial down payment toward helping homeowners and businesses get back on their feet,” said Donovan. “While we can never truly replace the homes and businesses that were lost because of this natural disaster, it’s my hope that these funds will help Coloradans move forward with rebuilding their lives and their communities.”
“These much needed funds will help flood-impacted communities make critical repairs and improvements to infrastructure, housing and help to boost economic development,” Gov. Hickenlooper said. “We want to thank Secretary Donovan and HUD for this investment to help communities and businesses rebuild from the floods.”
“As communities across Colorado continue to recover from September’s flood, these disaster recovery funds will ensure that victims do not fall through the cracks. I will keep fighting to ensure that these Community Development Block Grant funds are used wisely to supplement the assistance FEMA, the Small Business Administration and other agencies have provided to Coloradans,” Senator Udall said. “These HUD funds are especially important for uninsured homeowners, many of whom did not live in a high-risk flood area but saw their home destroyed nonetheless.”
“Coloradans have made significant progress rebuilding and repairing in the aftermath of the floods this fall, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Senator Bennet said. “CDBG resources will help a wide range of recovery efforts, from individual home owners and businesses repairing damaged property, to cities and towns reconstructing roads, bridges, and public spaces. This funding is critical for a number of small Colorado towns overwhelmed by this disaster to help finance rebuilding costs. This is another big step forward as Colorado builds back better than before.”
Secretary Donovan told the group assembled at Lyons Town Hall that eighty percent (a little over fifty million dollars) of the recovery funds announced on Thursday must be spent in the most impacted counties of Boulder, Weld, and Larimer. Governor Hickenlooper announced to the group that rather than have the State (i.e. the Office of Emergency Management or the Department of Local Affairs) telling the local municipalities how the money should be spent, it would be the small towns and Counties deciding what was needed.
Donovan also indicated that as more damage data becomes available, he anticipates that HUD will provide the State of Colorado with additional recovery funds in 2014. The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, signed into law by President Obama on January 29, included $16 billion in CDBG-Disaster Recovery funding.
The legislation specifies these funds are to be used “for necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas resulting from a major disaster.” Sounds exactly like Lyons.
Donovan stressed that HUD’s CDBG-Disaster Recovery grants were “flexible,” and are intended to confront housing, business and infrastructure needs beyond those addressed by other forms of public and private assistance such as FEMA, SBA, National Flood Insurance, and other private insurance providers. Using a combination of data from FEMA and the SBA, HUD identified particular counties in Colorado with the greatest extent of damage to housing, businesses and infrastructure. HUD will shortly publish a Notice that will regulate the use of the funds announced today. The State of Colorado will then finalize disaster “action plans” describing how it intends to expend these funds to support disaster recovery and HUD will quickly review them.