FEMA aid denied to Morgan County residents because the President has not declared it a disaster area

FEMA disaster team still assessing damage

GOODRICH, Colo. - Residents in the Morgan County town of Goodrich are seeking federal assistance following the Colorado floods.

The South Platte River overflowed its banks and broke levees in Morgan County nearly two weeks ago. So far, the President has not declared the county a disaster area.

Michael Benko lives about an eighth of a mile from the South Platte, but now has two cracks in his home's foundation because of the floodwaters.

"Evidently, it must have moved this corner of the house because now my doors don't open and close correctly," said Benko.

The river also turned his dirt road into an off-road course.

"FEMA said they could help me with the road and help me with the crack in the foundation, but we're not designated as a disaster area, therefore they have no assistance for us," said Benko.

He applied for FEMA aid on September 17. He quickly got a rejection letter, telling him, "Your home is not located in the designated disaster area."

"The damage is the same as any other county, Weld or Adams," said Benko.

The FEMA letter left the door open for the county to be included in disaster assistance.

"The designated disaster area may be expanded," the letter said.

Benko said a FEMA representative suggested he have his neighbors also request federal assistance.

"The more you have call in, the more of a response you get," said Benko.

7NEWS confirmed with the Morgan County Commissioners Office and with the Office of Emergency Management that a FEMA crew was assessing damage in the county on Wednesday.

To determine if there will be public assistance for the county, FEMA determines the amount of the damage compared to the number of residents, to get a per capita ratio.

To determine if there will be individual housing assistance, FEMA needs to assess the amount of the damage in comparison to the insurance coverage provided.

"We're a few people in a real small town that need some help," said Morgan County flood victim Deb Sample. "We're waiting and hoping that decisions are made that get us some relief here."

When the section of Highway 39 through Goodrich flooded and disappeared, it flooded Sample's home. There is now a canyon and standing water in her backyard that used to be a field. The South Platte is actually supposed to be an eighth of a mile farther away.

"I really would like FEMA to cover this. I mean, how in the world are we ever going to restore this?" said Sample. "We're a poor, rural community. We don't have that kind of money here."