Flood Recovery and Mitigation
September of 2015 marked the two-year anniversary of the 2013 flood. The 2013 flood was a presidentially declared disaster that caused extensive damage to private property. The city has estimated private property damage to have totaled $200 million inside the city limits, and $28 million in damage to city infrastructure and public lands. City staff, consultants and community partners continue to work diligently to make progress in achieving the council-adopted objectives for both near-term recovery and long-term resilience:
- Help people get assistance - Facilitate access to individual assistance for affected homeowners, renters and businesses to support their recovery from flood impacts and strengthen long-term resilience.
- Restore and enhance our infrastructure - Invest in projects to restore services and to rebuild and enhance infrastructure, as appropriate, in the interests of public health and safety, community quality of life, and long-term resilience.
- Assist business recovery - Work with the Boulder business community and key partners to connect affected businesses with resources, recover quickly from flood impacts, and support long-term economic vitality.
- Pursue and focus resources to support recovery efforts - Work in partnership with volunteers, governmental and other agencies to maximize financial resources and efficiencies for recovery.
- Learn together and plan for the future - Engage the Boulder community in assessing neighborhood impacts, refining and rethinking community design options, prioritizing actions and opportunities that mitigate hazards before rebuilding, and supporting long-term community resilience and sustainability. By doing so, we build a city both greater and more beautiful than before.
In May 2015, significant storms brought rain and flooding across the Front Range and Boulder County, resulting in the second disaster declaration in two years. This disaster declaration only included public assistance (for local governments and special districts), and not individual assistance for private property owners. The city sustained an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 in damage.
Status and Potential Next Steps
The city continues to help residents in need of assistance as they recover from the flood. As of September 2015, all units that the city was aware of being vacant and uninhabitable as a result of the flood have either been repaired or reconstructed or are nearing construction completion and re-occupancy. The city’s flood recovery and restoration building permit and fee waivers will remain in place until March 1, 2016.
One-hundred and thirty (130) city households remain engaged in case management assistance, with needs ranging from construction and rehabilitation to personal belongings and mental health assistance. The Long Term Flood Recovery Group (LTFRG) of Boulder County will transition assistance back to the existing service providers between December 2015 and March 2016. Boulder County Housing and Human Services is continuing to provide housing rehabilitation grant programs on behalf of the City of Boulder, funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. Those programs will extend through 2016, and potentially into 2017.
As a result of the significant flood damage to city infrastructure, the city is working to complete 330 projects across the community. These include repairs, restoration, replacement and mitigation work. As of September 2015, the city has completed 79 percent of the flood-related repairs. The September 2013 flooding was declared a national disaster, which created the opportunity for possible reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the State of Colorado. The city is striving to maximize reimbursement from all applicable agencies and grant funding opportunities. The following table presents financial highlights as of September 2015:
|Total Estimated Flood Recovery Cost||$28.5 million|
|Total Estimated FEMA Reimbursement||$17.6 million|
|Total Expended||$20.1 million|
|Total FEMA Eligible Expenditures||$14.3 million|
|Total Reimbursement Requests to FEMA||$9.3 million|
|Total FEMA Reimbursement Received||$5.6 million|
While FEMA and the state typically reimburse 87.5 percent of eligible projects (75 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively), in many cases, the city’s gap between incurred costs and estimated reimbursements varies significantly. To help close this gap between flood costs and FEMA reimbursements, the city is pursuing additional funding sources. The city has been awarded $4.1 million in non-FEMA grants to support recovery and resilience projects in housing, open space and mountain parks, utilities, and community services. The city is also pursuing additional Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.
A series of storms in May and June 2015 led to damage to the city’s infrastructure, specifically to the Public Works-Utilities and Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) systems, with some minor damage to the Parks and Recreation and Transportation systems. The City of Boulder participated in the FEMA initial damage assessment process and on Aug. 7, 2015, the City Manager issued a local disaster declaration, which qualified the city for FEMA Public Assistance.
City staff is currently working with the FEMA Public Assistance team to develop project worksheets for five damaged sites in the Public Utilities and Open Space and Mountain Parks systems. It is anticipated that FEMA will complete writing project worksheets by November. Current estimates of damage are approximately $500,000 to $600,000.
The multiple weather events that occurred during this designated time period did not meet the federal damage threshold to qualify for FEMA Individual Assistance (IA). Therefore, any potential FEMA funds can only be used for damage to public property and infrastructure. The FEMA reimbursement for this disaster is 75 percent of eligible costs. The city currently estimates receiving approximately $375,000 to $450,000 in FEMA reimbursements for 2015 flood recovery.
For additional detail and background, please refer to the Flood Recovery Updates at: https://bouldercolorado.gov/flood/recovery-and-resilience
Long-term Flood Recovery and Resilience
The city published its flood recovery after-action report on Sept. 11, 2015, identifying best practices and lessons learned to date through the flood recovery process.
Staff will be preparing formal disaster recovery plans to capture and document the lessons learned and to plan for the future. City staff will continue to work with the community and across the organization to plan for the future and potentially reprioritize infrastructure investments and resources. Staff is also coordinating recovery efforts with local, state, and federal agencies; the private sector; and nonprofit organizations through Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
2016 - As the flood recovery efforts progress, the work plan will continue to be evaluated to ensure efficiency and effective use of resources. Periodic council updates on flood recovery efforts will occur through information packet items on an as-needed basis.