Flood waters recede, but great needs remain
Scattered thunderstorms still plagued the Front Range Monday afternoon, following a week’s worth of historic flooding. But at least rescue helicopters were in the air after being grounded Sunday, and the weather forecast calls for sunny skies through the remainder of the week.
Now, it’s time for Coloradans to work together — as we historically have done after tragedies — to help the individuals and communities devastated by the floods. Many local and regional organizations are accepting donations and providing assistance for flood relief.
It may take weeks to determine the full extent of damages caused by the historically heavy rainfall — reportedly as much as 10 inches in some areas. Up to 4 inches fell on Sunday alone in parts of Larimer County, according to news reports
But this much is known. At least five people are dead due to the flooding, and another 1,253 remained unaccounted for as of Monday.
Additionally, more than 17,000 homes have been damaged and at least 1,500 destroyed, according to the website for the Colorado Office of Emergency Management on Monday. The agency also said 11,750 people have been evacuated from their homes or locations where they had been stranded.
While Gov. John Hickenlooper and Craig Fugate, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, were touring flood-ravaged areas Monday, emergency response teams, helicopters and national guard troops were continuing their efforts to reach areas cut off by flood waters in the past few days.
At the same time, residents of the flooded neighborhoods were returning to their homes to see if there were personal items they could salvage, and whether they had homes at all.
Animal welfare agencies were dealing with animals that got separated from their owners or were relocated from flooded areas. County fairgrounds and individual property owners were providing temporary homes for livestock that had to be moved because of the high water.
And various agencies are beginning to assess what they could have done differently to predict flooding and get warnings out more rapidly to people threatened by raging waters.
Meanwhile, federal authorities have expanded the number of counties declared disaster areas to 15, making federal assistance available for needs like temporary housing, and for home repairs not covered by insurance.
But individuals can still help by donating to relief agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as local organizations and animal welfare agencies in the affected communities.
The website, http://www.HelpColoradoNow.net, has a list of reputable organizations that need cash donations, as well as some that may welcome volunteer help.