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Aftermath of flooding is focus of town hall meeting

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By Stephanie DeCamp

Residents whose property and possessions were damaged by September's flooding have a limited amount of time to register those losses with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, County Commissioner Don Rosier said last Thursday at a town hall meeting in Evergreen.

Rosier encouraged any resident with possible damage to register with either the FEMA or Jeffco websites. Registration can be canceled if it is determined that no damage was done, but because of the midnight Nov. 13 deadline, he urged residents to take a "better safe than sorry" approach. Residents can apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362.
For its part, FEMA will be providing 75 percent of the grants, with the county picking up the remaining 25 percent.
The update came as one of many during the Pathfinders' town hall meeting, which also included speakers Scott Robson, executive director of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District; Dean Dalvit, president of the Downtown Evergreen Economic District; Sharon Smith, executive director of Evergreen Christian Outreach, better known as EChO; Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege; Jeffco Sheriff Ted Mink; and state Rep. Cheri Gerou.
The flooding was especially devastating along Clear Creek, Rosier said, with homes damaged and roads lost. In addition, seven bridges were damaged, and Gov. John Hickenlooper declared Jeffco part of the state of emergency that brought FEMA calling.
But neighbors have come calling as well, Rosier said, as 60 people volunteered throughout the crisis to offer their time, services and money to help victims.
No deaths occurred in Jefferson County during the flooding, but local infrastructure took a big hit, along with local businesses, many of which had to remain closed for days.
Gerou later echoed Rosier in describing the extent of the destruction.
"I can't describe how bad it is out there," she said, describing homes swept into concrete culverts, highways gone, and residents unable to afford gas money to drive hours out of the way to get home.

Downtown Evergreen parking lot
DEED has been working to figure out who exactly owns the parking area in downtown Evergreen that was undercut by floodwaters and washed out, Dalvit said.
He said confusion with the property's deed has made that process difficult, but the likely owner — Century Link — had been unaware it possessed the property. The efforts to establish ownership have involved the Colorado Department of Transportation, Century Link and Evergreen National Bank.
The lot's fate illuminated a serious weakness in downtown infrastructure, Dalvit said.
But he also informed attendees that, thanks to the businesses and individuals who have become members of the Evergreen Legacy Fund (which adds a voluntary 1 percent fee to retail and restaurant tabs near downtown) $50,000 has been raised over the last year. DEED has been helping recovery efforts with that money, he said, though most contributions have been along the lines of organization, manpower, permit navigation and other paperwork-oriented efforts, particularly for Cactus Jack's.

A silver lining?
However, not all was doom and gloom during the flooding.
"From every incident, there's an opportunity," Sheriff Ted Mink declared from the podium. Introduced as "the Wyatt Earp of Evergreen" by Pathfinder Jim Gorman, Mink appeared happy to finally relay some good news.
Thanks to the flooding, he said, county law enforcement and emergency management got a rare chance to put their emergency systems and operations to the test.
"I feel very strongly," he said, "that we are equipped‚ for any event that now comes our way."