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FEMA pours money into flood recovery



Historic storms that flooded Colorado in September have proved costly for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As of Dec. 9, a FEMA official says, about 1,200 El Paso County homeowners and renters had applied for assistance for damage to homes. Because President Barack Obama issued a major disaster declaration for flooded Colorado counties, individuals who suffered damage are eligible for up to $31,900 in uninsured costs, provided they registered with FEMA by the Nov. 30 deadline. About $1.6 million has been awarded to 746 El Paso County homeowners and renters so far.

That's a small percentage of the approximately $57.4 million approved statewide for about 16,400 individuals for emergency home repairs; rental assistance; essential personal property; and medical/dental/funeral assistance. Most went to hard-hit Boulder County.

The main reason for denial in El Paso County has been "insufficient damage" — in other words, the home was considered safe, sanitary and functional. Another top reason is unverified occupancy. To be eligible for FEMA help, a home must be a primary residence.

Others opted out of FEMA rental assistance when they chose to remain in damaged homes, withdrew applications, were missing paperwork, missed an inspection, or had insurance that covered their costs.

Those who are denied can appeal and may still get assistance, especially if they discover previously undetected damage. But El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark says it's important to note that FEMA direct assistance is currently available only for homes damaged in the September floods, not earlier summer floods that ravaged areas including Manitou Springs.

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