Flood-damaged mobile homes remain untouched in Evans; Pose health and safety concern

City asking for funds for cleanup

EVANS, Colo. - Five months after the historic flooding, the debris of over 200 mobile homes remains in Evans. The properties are such a health and safety concern that they are currently fenced off.

A decimated mobile home park sits behind Selina Merkt's home. She removed the debris from her own property months ago, but it remains in the mobile home park.

"I'm sure there's food rotting over there that has been there for five months already," she said. "Mold is going to be in the air. The rats...they’re going to merge out and it’s going to come to our house."

In a letter to the property owners, the health department's survey of the properties revealed the following findings:

"Damaged homes and other structures that may contain hazardous materials, such as asbestos and household hazardous wastes. Piles of putrescible household trash and garbage, food stuffs, and vegetable debris. Piles of construction debris and other debris providing harborage and breeding grounds for animals, rodents and other disease causing varmints. Mold impacted household furnishings, carpeting, interior walls an other building materials that were soaked by the flood waters."

"It's pretty selfish of them to put my children at risk because they're not willing to step up," Merkt said.

7NEWS Reporter Lindsey Sablan asked Evans Mayor Lyle Achziger, "Why hasn't anything been done?"

"I wish I knew," he responded. "We have exhausted everything at our disposal. We had a plan, we followed everything we’ve been taught through this whole process to contact all various state and federal agencies...We’ve done it, that was our plan and now we’ve hit a break wall."

Achziger's office sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper saying Evans has "kicked and screamed to get resources." The City requested $1 million for debris removal, which FEMA denied.

7NEWS obtained the letter from FEMA which states, "The debris confined to the area within the mobile home parks is representative of conditions that does not give rise to the level where its removal is in public interest."

"Their claim is we don't meet the criteria," Achziger, "but my response to that is if this doesn't meet criteria of public health safety hazard, I don't know what does."

Hickenlooper's office responded Tuesday afternoon with an open letter saying it is appealing for more money from Washington.

To be clear, it is the property owner or trailer owner's responsibility to clean up the mess. The city has sent letters to the property owners, warning them this is a public nuisance issue. The Mayor said roughly 800 to 1,000 residents lived in the two parks. Most of those residents they have not been able to track since September's floods.