SUPERIOR, Colo. — Government-funded debris removal, once delayed by a lawsuit, began this week in Boulder County, more than three months after the Marshall Fire destroyed hundreds of homes.
"It's hard to see everything hauled away, but at the same time, this will move us forward to accepting what happened," Brenda Leighton said Tuesday.
She lost her home on the southern end of Superior's Sagamore neighborhood on that unforgettable day.
"It hits you in the gut every time you come here and look at the destruction of your home and all your personal possessions," Leighton said.
Like many, she opted into the private property debris removal program, which is funded by FEMA, Colorado, Superior, Louisville and Boulder County.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat representing Colorado, who toured the cleanup efforts Tuesday, says the county is off to a good start.
"This is never fast enough, never as easy as it should be. But they're doing the hard work here, and I know we'll get it done," he said.
The cleanup will likely take four months to complete, according to Jeffery Maxwell, Boulder County's director of public works. At its height, it will have 30 crews working across the county.
"I know the residents have been waiting for this, and we want to do everything we can to get them back into their neighborhoods and their communities as quickly as possible," he said.
Once the cleanup is complete, Leighton will decide what she does next with her property: rebuild or sell the lot.
"I think people are hoping we move forward now," she said. "And honestly, I don't think any of us can do it with how it looks right now."
While cleanup began in Marshall and Superior this week, crews are expected to arrive in Louisville next week to begin cleanup there. Each lot takes about 3-5 days to clean up. The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week it had doubled the local multiplier used in calculating disaster loans for people who qualify.