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Governor approves state funds to keep National Guard working, Labor Department awards grant to create recovery jobs

DENVER — Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 — Gov. John Hickenlooper announced today he authorized the use of state funds to keep Colorado National Guard members who won’t be paid during the federal government shutdown working on flood recovery.

 

“We can’t afford to lose one day in rebuilding areas destroyed or damaged by the floods,” Hickenlooper said. “Our National Guard troops are an invaluable part of the team working on the recovery. We need them to stay on the job.”

 

The state will pay the costs of the National Guard with the hope of recovering 75 percent of the expense from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The state and local governments will pay the remaining 25 percent to help ensure that recovery work continues without interruption.

 

Also today, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a National Emergency Grant to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for up to $4.6 million with $2.3 million released initially. The grant will create about 230 temporary jobs for eligible individuals to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts.

 

The governor and Chief Recovery Officer Jerre Stead announced a handful of other updates today:

  • U.S. 34 between Greeley and Kersey and U.S. 34 between County Road 27 and the Dam Store will reopen today or Thursday morning. 16 of 31 (52 percent) of impacted roadways are now open.

  • 15 of 17 counties impacted by flooding are now approved for individual assistance from FEMA. Register with FEMA by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Call center hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., MST, seven days a week. Or register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

  • FEMA has approved $33.9 million so far for individual assistance.

  • The Small Business Administration has approved $1.4 million for disaster assistance.

  • There are more than 1,200 FEMA personnel on the ground in Colorado.

  • 33 school districts received extensions this month for their official count day.

  • Federal reimbursements will not count toward the state or local government’s fiscal year spending limits under TABOR.

 

“We needed quick response and we are getting quick response,” Stead said. “All levels of government and impacted communities share a strong desire to rebuild quickly. Our focus continues to be on repairing as much as possible by the time winter arrives.”

 

Stead, with the support of his Englewood-based company IHS Inc., put together a small team to coordinate and sequence all activities related to the flood recovery. This week, the recovery team is selecting a firm to help build a rigorous reporting and action planning process. This process will span recovery efforts in the areas of Infrastructure, Individuals, Communities, Economic and Environment.

 

Important to the short-term success of this effort is the review all policies and regulations to see how the state can speed up the recovery. For example, the Department of Natural Resources suspended two mining-related rules to reduce the time it takes to get materials to rebuild roads and bridges.

 

Specifically, one rule change allows for a shorter period to obtain necessary permits to extract construction materials. The current time is 20 days; the approved suspension will allow operators to obtain a permit in one to three days. The second rule change relaxes the processing time when operators seek technical revisions or amendments to permits -- particularly where emergency actions are necessary to remediate flooding impacts and to protect public health, safety and the environment -- to as little as one day with verbal approval from the current wait of 30 to 90 days.

 

Stead’s team is also working with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management to finalize the process for allocating $91.5 million in state funds designated so far for response and recovery.

 

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