If all goes according to plan, residents who experienced flooding during the spring storms in Elbert County might become eligible for federal aid. On June 24, the county commissioners approved a resolution declaring a local disaster from excessive …
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If all goes according to plan, residents who experienced flooding during the spring storms in Elbert County might become eligible for federal aid. On June 24, the county commissioners approved a resolution declaring a local disaster from excessive rainfall. The disaster declaration is the first step in a process that is likely to bring some federal money to the county to help repair public infrastructure, specifically Elbert County's roads.
Currently there is no individual assistance available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the declaration is a step toward that possibility.
The county's declaration triggers action by the state to take up the case for seeking federal aid. “They are working toward a presidential declaration,” said Brandon Lenderink, director of the county's Office of Emergency Management. “A presidential declaration will open the door for individual assistance and possibly in a lot of other areas.”
In the meantime, other public and private agencies are willing to assist residents with storm cleanup. The Colorado Red Cross is encouraging anyone whose home was damaged by the May 4 tornado to contact them. The county has posted a link to the Red Cross' 2015 Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide on the Spotlight portion of its home page, www.elbertcounty-co.gov.
In addition, Colorado Baptist Disaster Relief is providing help with flood recovery, mud removal and other necessities. They can be reached at 720-244-1601.
“These agencies will come to your home, they will assess the damages,” Lenderink said. “If you need water pumped out, they will do all that. They will look at your damage. They'll cut drywall, test for mold, and spray for mold.”
Lenderink has firsthand experience with the floods brought on by the storms. While he was coordinating first responders in the Emergency Operations Center, water flooded the basement of his house, damaging carpet and destroying drywall.
The spring storms could be just the beginning. Typically, the annual summer rains in Colorado begin in the second week of July and continue through mid to late August, but forecast models released by the National Weather Service predict the summer monsoon season will begin about two weeks early this year and could continue into September. In addition, the eastern plains of Colorado are predicted to experience lower-than-normal temperatures and higher-than-normal precipitation.
With the coming monsoon season, Lenderink is encouraging residents to prepare for continued flooding in the county and, at a minimum, to sign up for the county's reverse 911 system, CodeRED.
“I highly recommend you do so, because these storms are coming. It could be in the middle of the day. It could be in the middle of the night,” he said. “We don't have sirens in Elbert County, so this is a very important system to have.”
When the National Weather Service issues a bulletin, the CodeRED system automatically initiates calls to participating landlines and mobile phones, alerting subscribers in the warning area to such things as thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings, tornado warnings and winter storm warnings. Subscribers may also sign up to receive text messages or emails.
“When these floods come in, the National Weather Service gets their polygon in a very specific area, and when that hits, it sends those calls to your home, cell phones, however you signed up,” Lenderink said.
Go to www.elbertcounty-co.gov/code_red.php to sign up.
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