DENVER — Wednesday, July 10, 2013 —Gov. Hickenlooper today submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a presidential major disaster declaration for El Paso and Fremont counties. The requests come as a result of the Black Forest and Royal Gorge wildfires and the letter states:
“In the past year, El Paso County has suffered two historic fires, setting state records each time for the greatest number of destroyed residences. In addition, the County and utility providers serving the incident area incurred over $11.4 million in emergency and permanent disaster costs. The County continues on with its first recovery process while now engaging in a second process. In addition, a severe storm that produced tornadoes, high winds and large hail impacted rural areas of the county, destroying and damaging multiple homes and outbuildings.
“In the past year, Fremont County and the City of Canon City suffered the physical and economic effects of the Waldo Canyon, Royal Forge and Bull Gulch fires. Unemployment in Canon City is higher than the state average and the Royal Gorge Fire caused the immediate unemployment of another 150 persons. Further unemployment will occur as businesses dependent upon Royal Gorge Bridge and Park-related tourism suffer from the closure of the Park. In addition to the $26.9 million in damaged and destroyed publically owned property, City and County governments are suffering decreased sales tax revenues from the park and ancillary tourism industries for the second straight year due to disasters.”
The letter requests support to include: Public Assistance Categories A-G; Individual and Households Program; Crisis Counseling Program; Disaster Unemployment Assistance; Disaster Legal Services; Disaster Case Management; SBA Physical Disaster and Economic Injury Disaster Loans; Hazard Mitigation Grant Program; USDA NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program financial assistance; and HUD CDBG supplemental disaster assistance.
“Without the support and related assistance programs, the additional burdens from these events will further undermine state and local governments’ ability to recover from the severe impacts of the Black Forest Fire, the Royal Gorge Fire, and the many other fires and severe storm events that occurred over the past 12 months. The risk to safety of our citizens and the infrastructure of Colorado is ever present, especially in the midst of another severe wildfire seasons,” said the letter.
Additionally, Hickenlooper submitted a request to the Small Business Administration for a disaster declaration for the purpose of providing Economic Injury Disaster Loans for business in the Counties of Hinsdale, Mineral, and Rio Grande, and the contiguous counties of Archuleta, Alamosa, Conejos, Gunnison, La Plata, Ouray, Saguache and San Juan.