FEMA teams survey damaged homes in Lyons

LYONS, Colo. - Despite the lack of power, water and sewer services in the Town of Lyons, residents of the flood-ravaged town are working hard to put their lives back together. FEMA teams visited the area again Wednesday to survey the damage.

"It's like a picture of the Grand Canyon -- you can't really get it until you see it firsthand," resident Tom Chapin says about the magnitude of the flood damage. "It really tore this place up."

Chapin contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday and a team responded to his home Wednesday. He says he expected a much slower response.

"Especially given they are technically shut down today," he said. "It was a remarkably fast response."

Because FEMA's funding comes from the Disaster Relief Fund, it is not immediately affected by the shutdown. That fund continues from one fiscal year to the next, so a lapse in annual funding doesn't have an immediate impact.

Right now, there are more than 1,000 FEMA staff members responding to flood recovery in Colorado. Watson said that number would not decrease because of the shutdown.

"The inspector will make an assessment and then get back to him within two to three days with how much he is due," FEMA spokeswoman William Lindsey said about Chapin's claim. "They will assess the damage as a whole."

Homeowners could be eligible for up to $30,000 for repairs. That is grant money that does not have to be repaid.

While Chapin is pleased with the response he received, others in the canyon are critical of the agency. Some protest that the agency is not responding at all in areas still inaccessible by road.

Lindsey, however, says they are working hard and employing helicopters to get teams to more isolated areas.

"We're here on the ground, putting forth the effort," Lindsey said.

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