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Congress Requests Additional Support for Wildfire Victims

Colorado Delegation Asks FEMA to Extend Additional Support to Fire Victims

Letter Requests Aid for Businesses, Housing, Individual Assistance

 

The entire Colorado Congressional delegation today asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand the major Presidential disaster declaration to include housing support, small business disaster loans, and other individual assistance for victims of the Colorado wildfires in El Paso and Larimer Counties. The letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate details the destruction caused by the wildfires and the need for additional federal support.

“So far, Colorado’s wildfire season has claimed six lives, collectively burned over 200,000 acres of land, and destroyed over 650 homes,” the delegation wrote in the letter. “Small businesses in Colorado urgently need access to economic injury loans, and other types of SBA disaster loans, in order to help the affected communities recover from the economic aftershocks of these fires. Adding individual assistance to the declaration will automatically make homes and businesses in affected counties eligible for these funding streams and provide new housing assistance to families who are now homeless.”

Last month, President Obama declared the Waldo Canyon and High Park Fires as major federal disaster areas. The President’s declaration came following a request from Governor John Hickenlooper and a letter from the congressional delegation. The declaration makes available a number of federal programs to assist in the response and recovery efforts. The types of assistance available are determined by a damage assessment conducted by FEMA.

The letter was signed by Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, along with Representatives Diana DeGette, Doug Lamborn, Ed Perlmutter, Mike Coffman, Jared Polis, Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton.

 

The full text of the letter is below:

 

July 19, 2012

Administrator Craig Fugate

Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Mr. Fugate:

We write today to thank you for the expedited review that led to the major Presidential disaster declaration for the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires on June 28, 2012.  The programs that were activated will be critical to help Colorado communities recover.  However, now that the fires are contained and additional assessments have been completed, we request that you expand the declaration to include FEMA Individual Assistance Programs as requested by Governor Hickenlooper, making housing support and other financial assistance available to Colorado families and businesses. We also ask that you make these programs available to other burned areas outside the two fires in these counties, including the Woodland Heights Fire in Larimer County.

So far, Colorado’s wildfire season has claimed six lives, collectively burned over 200,000 acres of land, and destroyed over 650 homes, a number of them uninsured or underinsured. Taken together, this has been the most destructive fire season in the history of our state, and the impact on local communities has been severe. Almost 50,000 Coloradans across the state have been evacuated, and many have undergone the trauma of seeing their homes and possessions burn to the ground and are struggling to rebuild. The damage has been sufficiently concentrated in certain communities to cause real economic hardship and deprived businesses dependent on tourism dollars of vital income. Small businesses in Colorado urgently need access to economic injury loans, and other types of SBA disaster loans, in order to help the affected communities recover from the economic aftershocks of these fires. Adding individual assistance to the declaration will automatically make homes and businesses in affected counties eligible for these funding streams and provide new housing assistance to families who are now homeless.

We’re grateful for the work and sacrifice of all involved in this response and recovery effort. We hope to see the public assistance assessments concluded expeditiously and the disaster declaration expanded as outlined above. As always, we stand ready to assist in any way that may be helpful to Coloradans dealing with this situation on the ground.

Sincerely,

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