Colorado Update

I’m preparing to go to Colorado in a couple of weeks to do some reporting and writing about the disaster from there. I’ll be heading out November 3rd and will be there for a week. In the meantime, I thought a brief update was in order on the situation:

The Denver Post is reporting that over 300 immigrants remain homeless after the flood because many of them do not qualify for government aid. They were living in trailers or apartments in areas such as Evans, Milliken and Longmont. Apparently, many are in the country without documents, but others lost important documents in the floods. Click here for the story.

One of the issues faced by people living in the mountains is that first they have been hit by two disasters in short succession. First they had fires, and then they had a major flood. Even before the floods last month, flash floods running off the burned up hillsides has resulted in mudflows and severe erosion in several areas. This problem was exacerbated by the storm last month. The Coloradoan.com had covered this story on September 25th.  The impact on mountain residents is severe. In the meantime, drought, fire and climate change, says the National Geographic, all may have contributed to the Colorado flooding. NPR reports flood forensics suggest that mud and rock slides have caused serious erosion in several areas. Digging out of roads, bridges and homes will be costly and take time.

A couple of weeks ago, Colorado State’s Climate Center has launched a website devoted to the floods. It contains storm facts, timelines, photos of the damage as well as satellite and radar imagery.  They also include a Resources page here that includes flood highway updates.

FEMA has issued a statement titled, “Colorado Flooding One Month Later: Positive Signs of Recovery.” Among other pieces of information and links to their various activities, FEMA reports county-by-county breakdown of state and federal grants.

A financial disaster emerged in the wake of the Colorado floods for many food victims because many homeowners did not have flood insurance. The USA Today reported back on September 16th that only 22,000 homes and business had flood insurance (mostly residential policies). Before being too appalled at that figure, it may be good to check to see if your flood insurance is up to date. NBC News Business reports that only 18% of Americans have any kind of flood insurance. Many do not even realize they need it, or they think they have it but don’t. (For more information on flood insurance visit FloodSmart.gov.)

The Army Corps of Engineers: Change of Command is a Change for the MRC

On September 24th, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a change of command ceremony for the Mississippi Valley Division. Brig. Gen. Duke Deluca took over. He is the 37th commander of the division. You can see the Corps’ press release here.

One of the important aspects of his job is serving as the president-designee of the Mississippi River Commission. The USACE coordinates with this agency in very important ways that affect us all along the Mississippi. This is an agency that has existed for well over a 100 years and is, in my view, one of the most understudied and least understood federal agencies, particularly given its staggering importance to such a large number of states and localities. It oversees the Mississippi River and Tributaries flood control and navigation project, providing advice and guidance on issues relating to water resources all along the Mississippi AND its tributaries.

If you’re unfamiliar with the MRC, take a look at the map it provides (we reproduced it below) and read through some of the information on its page.

MRC Map

That is a large chunk of the country… Good luck, Brig. Gen. Deluca!