Colorado flooding: How to get help
The Colorado floods, rock slides and mud slides destroyed more than 1,500 homes and damaged nearly 18,000, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.
Residents looking for help to rebuild or find new places to live may need help to navigate assistance options, ranging from the federal government to local nonprofit groups.
Read the following tips for information on how to find those resources:
Disaster recovery centers
City and county governments organized disaster recovery centers to serve as one-stop-shops for Colorado flood victims seeking help. Residents can visit a recovery center to apply for financial help or speak with representatives from non-profit groups, insurance agencies and FEMA.
Adams County: Commerce City Recreation Center
- Address: 6060 E. Parkway Drive, Commerce City, Colo.
- Hours: 12 to 7 p.m. daily.
- Available services: Resources for small business assistance, temporary housing, insurance, flood-damage assessments and FEMA registration.
Boulder County: Twin Peaks Mall, in the old Steve and Barry’s store,
- Address: 1250 S. Hoover Road, Longmont, Colo.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
- Available services: Computers to apply for flood assistance, representatives from American Family Insurance and Colorado Disaster Baptist Relief. City and county representatives. The city plans to bring other insurance companies to the site, as well as FEMA representatives.
Larimer County: Former Agilent/HP campus
- Address: 815 14th St. SW, Building B, Loveland, Colo.
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
- Available services: Registering for flood assistance, information on county services/assistance, representatives from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, United Way, insurance companies, FEMA and the SBA.
- Also open on location: a distribution center in Building D. The distribution center provides items such as water, clothing and non-perishable food to flood victims.
Weld County: Island Grove Event Center and the Southwest Weld Service Center
- Event center address: 425 N. 15th Ave., Greely, Colo.
- Service center address: 4209 WCR 24.5, Del Camino, Col.
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 17 through Sept. 19.
- Available services: Tetanus shots, help with getting new birth certificates and identification. Assistance with food stamp reallocations, applications and referrals to other financial services. Representatives from North Range Behavioral Health, the Salvation Army, Farmer’s Insurance, the Greeley/Weld Housing Authority, the county assessor’s office and the planning and building inspections office.
Apply for help through FEMA
Residents in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties can apply for assistance through FEMA if flooding damaged their homes or apartments. Anyone with damage to their property may apply, even if they have insurance.
Where you can apply:
- Online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
- By mobile device at m.fema.gov.
- By phone at 800-621-3362. Phone hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
- Victims with speech impairments, or hearing loss who use TTY, should call 800-462-7585. Victims who use 711 or Video Relay Service should call 800-621-3362.
Registration typically takes 15 to 20 minutes.
What you need when you apply:
- Social Security number.
- Zip code.
- Current contact number.
- An address to receive postal service mail.
- Date of damage.
- Directions to your home.
- Insurance contact information and policy numbers.
- Gross family income.
- Description of damages.
- Bank routing number (optional if you want a direct deposit).
FEMA gives you an ID number after you apply. Write down the number nd keep it in a safe place. You’ll need the number for future communication with FEMA, and you may use it in place of personal identification if the flood destroyed other documents.
You can create an online account to keep track of your registration, and to update your insurance and bank account information.
What happens after you apply:
Flood victims should expect to hear from FEMA within 10 days after applying for assistance, although the timing may vary. The agency will send inspectors to determine whether residents qualify for assistance, and if so, for how much.
During the inspection:
- Inspectors will verify your name, address and FEMA registration number, but they will not ask for your Social Security number.
- The inspection is free. FEMA cautions residents to avoid potential scammers who may try to charge you for the inspection.
- Inspectors typically take 30 to 60 minutes to assess the damaged property and take photos.
- Inspectors will send their results to FEMA electronically, and they do not determine assistance eligibility.
After the inspection:
- Typically, FEMA sends a letter within 10 days after the inspection to notify of eligibility.
- If eligible, FEMA sends a check and letter explaining how you can spend the money.
- Be sure to follow FEMA’s guidelines for spending the money.
What to expect from FEMA:
FEMA can’t duplicate assistance that may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If your insurance covers all of your hotel costs, for example, FEMA can’t cover the same hotel costs. But if your insurance doesn’t cover costs such as temporary shelter or flood damage, FEMA may reimburse you for those disaster-related expenses.
Types of FEMA assistance include:
- Rental payments for temporary housing. Initial assistance can cover up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. FEMA may extend assistance if requested, based on a review of individual applicant requirements.
- Payment for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance, to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.
- Money to replace personal property or to meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state or charitable aid programs.
- Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.
- Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.
- Up to $200,000 for primary residence.
- Up to $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses.
- Up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.
- Loans of up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, nonprofit organizations that suffered disaster-related cashflow problems and need funds to recover from the disaster’s economic impact. This loan, in combination with a property loss loan, cannot exceed a total of $2 million.
- Other relief programs include: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and Social Security matters.
File an insurance claim
Here are tips for dealing with insured property damaged by disasters, according to the American Insurance Association:
Before you can return home:
Report the loss to your insurance company. If you need help remembering the name of the insurer, call your mortgage company.
Keep receipts for all lodging and meals, such as expenses that may be covered under the “additional living expenses” portion of your policy. To determine pre-loss living expenses, review your checkbook and credit card statements. If you don’t have statements, contact your bank or credit card company.
Start making a room-by-room list of all the home’s contents, including closets, drawers and the garage. To jog your memory, contact people who may have photos that show your home and some contents.
If you’re in a hotel, shelter, relative or friend’s home, and it’s clear you’ll be displaced for some time, consider renting an apartment near your house.
Once you can enter the home:
If damage is severe, contact local disaster response officials before entering. Report gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.
Take reasonable steps to protect or repair what you can.
Save receipts for anything you buy for protection or repair. Talk to your insurer, which should reimburse you for reasonable expenses related to repairs to a property damaged by a covered peril.
When cleaning property, wear protective eyewear, gloves or other gear if available.
Meeting with the adjuster or agent:
Meet with your insurance adjuster and/or insurance agent as soon as possible. Provide a general description of damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule. If you have an agent, he or she will report the loss to the insurer or a qualified adjuster who’ll contact you as soon as possible to inspect damage. Provide your best phone number.
Get a detailed estimate for permanent repairs from a reliable, licensed and bonded contractor, and give to the adjuster. The estimate should contain proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited. If you can, photograph or videotape damage to document your claim.
Prepare a list, as complete as possible, of damaged or lost items. Make two copies — one for you and one for the adjuster. Include all you can recall: dates of purchase or estimated age, cost at purchase and estimated replacement cost. If possible, collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other documents to help the adjuster determine the value of the destroyed property.
Once informed of your claim, the insurer must send necessary claim forms within a certain number of days, as specified by your state. Return completed forms as soon as possible. Ask if you have questions, and note the answers.
You may contact the Colorado Division of Insurance by calling 303-894-7490 if you feel that your insurance company is not handling your claim appropriately.
Contact information for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies:
American Family Insurance
Farmers and 21st Century
Progressive (auto insurance)
Progressive (home insurance partners)
The Colorado Office of Emergency Management posted an online map of evacuation shelters. Here is the list, including addresses:
- Niwot High School, 8989 Niwot High School, Niwot, Colo.
- Erie Community Center, 450 Powers St., Erie, Colo.
- YMCA of Boulder Valley, Mapleton Center, 2850 Mapleton Ave., Boulder, Colo.
- LifeBridge Christian Church, 10345 Ute Highway, Longmont, Colo.
- St. Vrain Valley School District: Mead High School, 12750 County Road 7, Longmont, Colo.
- Lifebridge Christian Church, 10345 Ute Highway, Longmont, Colo.
- Longmont Senior Center, 910 Longs Peak, Longmont, Colo.
- Lyons Elementary School, 338 High St., Lyons, Colo.
- Longmont Memorial Building, 700 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, Colo.
- Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center, 1306 Colorado 7 Business, Roosevelt National Forest, Allenspark, Colo.
- Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, 4869 Broadway St., Boulder, Colo.
- St. Aidens, 2425 Colorado Ave., Boulder, Colo.
- Jamestown Elementary School, 111 Mesa St., Roosevelt National Forest, Jamestown, Colo.
- Silver Creek High School, 4901 Nelson Road, Longmont, Colo.
- Nederlands Community Center, 750 Colorado 72, Roosevelt National Forest, Nederland, Colo.
El Paso County:
- First Presbyterian Church, 219 E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Mountain View Bible Fellowship Church, 1575 S. St. Vrain Ave., Estes Park, Colo.
- Timberline Church, 2908 S. Timberline Road, Fort Collins, Colo.
- Thompson School District, 800 S. Taft Ave., Loveland, Colo.
- Roosevelt High School, 616 N. Second St., Johnstown, Colo.
- Sterling Middle School, 1177 Pawnee Ave., Sterling, Colo.
- Fort Morgan Middle School, 300 Devel St., Fort Morgan, Colo.
- Milliken Middle School, 66 S. Irene Ave., Milliken, Colo.
- Greeley Recreation Center, 651 10th Ave., Greeley, Colo.
- Evans Community Complex, 1100 37th St., Evans, Colo.
- Fort Lupton Recreation Center, 2063 S. Harrison Ave., Fort Lupton, Colo.
- North Valley Middle School, 300 Second Ave., La Salle, Colo.
- La Salle Fire Station, 118 Main St., La Salle, Colo.
Colorado flood victims may dial 211 if they have a Colorado area code, or 866-760-6489 if they have an out-of-state area code, says Heather Spencer, communications manager of Foothills United Way
The number connects flood victims to a referral service for a wide range of needs, including:
- Temporary housing.
- Rental assistance.
- Medical assistance.
- Mental-health assistance and counseling.
- Food and supplies.
211 member organizations include:
- United Way of Weld County
- Mile High United Way
- Foothills United Way
- United Way of Larimer County
- Western Colorado 2-1-1
- Pikes Peak United Way
- United Way of Southwest Colorado
- 2-1-1 for Southeast Colorado
Small Business Association Loans
The SBA offers loans to homeowners and renters, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations. Flood victims must register for help through FEMA before applying for an SBA loan.
Where to apply:
- Online: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
- By mail: printable forms available online,
- In person: Flood victims can visit disaster recovery centers to apply for SBA loans.
- Phone: You can’t apply over the phone, but if you have questions about the process, you may contact the SBA at 800-659-2955.
What you’ll need when you apply
- Contact information for all applicants
- Social Security numbers for all applicants
- FEMA registration number
- Deed or lease information
- Insurance information
- Financial information (e.g. income, account balances and monthly expenses)
- Employer Identification Number for business applicants
How you can help others
Individuals or businesses wanting to help Colorado flood victims may visit one of the following Web sites:
- All Hands Volunteers.
- American Red Cross Colorado chapters.
- Colorado Office of Emergency Management.
- Foothills United Way.
- Help Colorado Now
- Larimer Humane Society.
- Salvation Army.
Be on the look out for illegitimate organizations asking for money. If you have concerns about an organization seeking donations, visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s Web site.
People wanting to volunteer or donate should not visit the evacuation shelters.
Sources: FEMA and Colorado Office of Emergency Management