NewsMarshall Fire


Boulder Co. submits FEMA debris removal funding request; senators and Neguse ask for 100% cost share

Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse ask Biden and FEMA to up cost share from 75% to 100%
neguse polis bidens marshall fire
Posted at 1:14 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 15:14:48-05

DENVER – Boulder County submitted a request this week to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Private Property Debris Removal funding from the federal government, and the state and the area’s federal representatives are asking for a 100% cost share.

Boulder County sent the request to FEMA on Monday for federal financial support for the debris removal for the parts of Superior, Louisville and the county where homes and businesses burned in the Marshall Fire on Dec. 30.

The request from the county asks FEMA for financial help to remove and properly dispose of destroyed structures, downed and damaged trees, contaminated soil (including sampling and testing), burned vehicles and debris, structures with more than one standing wall, and foundations (including retaining walls).

FEMA will have to review the request before deciding whether to grant the funding and in what amount. The county and municipalities have already closed the window for Requests for Proposals from contractors to help with the work.

“FEMA approval of the county’s PPDR request is a vital step to ensure funding is available to begin the next phase of debris removal work and will help determine how the county and its partners move forward,” the county said in a news release.

The fire destroyed 1,084 homes and damaged 149 others, and destroyed seven businesses and damaged 30 more.

The state’s website estimates home and business damage to be around $580 million, though officials have discussed estimates of up to $680 million and said the fire was the most destructive event in state history.

Local efforts to remove some debris, including burned-out vehicles, has already been completed, and other local efforts are ongoing over the next few weeks involving wind and smoke-damaged materials.

But there has been frustration from some victims who lost their homes in the fire about the slow process to remove the debris and start the rebuild, as was highlighted by some Superior residents at a meeting this past weekend.

More than 1,000 Boulder County residents had completed right-of-entry forms, the first step in asking for help in the cleanup from the county, as of last week. The window for those requests was also extended until Feb. 8.

Typically, under FEMA’s PPDR program, the agency would reimburse 75% of the costs, while Colorado would be responsible for 12.5% of the costs and local governments would be responsible for the remaining 12.5%.

“Louisville and Superior are working to understand the costs beyond what homeowner insurance will cover and what funding sources may be available if there is a funding gap,” Boulder County said in a news release last week.

But Colorado’s federal representatives for the area – Rep. Joe Neguse (D) and Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D) – wrote to FEMA and President Joe Biden this week asking FEMA to provide a 100% cost share in addition to approving the PPDR funding request – calling a 100% cost share “critical” because of low housing stock in the area.

“Because of the staggering scale of the destruction from the Marshall Fire and the vast amount of resources required for the community to recover, we believe that these requests are entirely warranted,” the three lawmakers wrote to FEMA and the president. “We urge your swift consideration and approval of the PPDR with the foundation removal request. We also ask that you support the state’s subsequent request for cost sharing assistance.”

Boulder County said last week that it should be able to award contracts for the debris removal sometime next week.

“Once a contractor is on board, we will start identifying priority areas for debris removal,” the county said. “In order to make the cleanup equitable and inclusive across all jurisdictions, we will work with the selected contractor on a plan to spread the effort out across the burned areas with a focus on environmental justice mapping to create a holistic picture of intersection environmental, social, and health impacts. We want to ensure that those who were hit hardest by this disaster and may not have the resources needed to rebuild quickly and easily get the help they need to get back on their feet and into their permanent home.”