Colorado Town Sees Flood Cleanup Nearing An End

February 16, 2016

One by one, homes at in a flood-ravaged foothills town near Boulder are being demolished.

Two and a half years after the flood, some Lyons residents are finally getting the federal buyouts they applied for, reported The Daily Camera. But although 67 displaced people originally expressed interest in the buyout, only 19 have gotten checks. Nine more are awaiting payment.

The flooded neighborhood at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain creeks had a sizable portion of low-income residents. Many could not afford to pay rent and insurance while waiting for checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Lyon’s most vulnerable neighborhoods still haven’t bounced back.

Many of those displaced by the flood have come to accept that they’re unlikely to return to Lyons.

flood-zoneEven the people who have been paid harbor some resentment about the slow process, according to Lyons Housing Recovery Coordinator Cody Humphrey.

“Many of them are very bitter about the length of time it took, and they feel like the town has turned their back on them,” he said. “It’s tough, because that isn’t our objective by any means. In fact, we pushed very hard to get housing, to return them.”

A ballot measure voted down last March would have built a 66-unit affordable housing complex for flood victims.

“FEMA folks said it’d be two or three years initially before money for buyouts came,” said Lyons buyout consultant Rosi Dennett. “I didn’t believe them. I thought, ‘Watch me. I’ll do it faster.’ But it’s taken a long time.”

Priscilla Cohan, who has lived at the river confluence for 18 years, said she never planned around the federal buyout.

“I always knew from the beginning that I couldn’t wait for the town to take the bureaucratic steps,” she said. “I had rebuilding to do, and I was not going to wait for the buyout.”

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