LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Recovery for people who lost homes in the floods in Larimer County is going to take months or even years in some cases, and on Sunday night dozens of evacuees were reassured by officials that they will be with them to help throughout that period.
“This is a long term event. This is a marathon event; we’re in this for the long haul,” Loveland Fire Chief Randy Mirowski told residents assembled at a community meeting in Loveland. “We’re going to work with you together. Together we are going to get through this. We’re going to come out the other side strong. I’ll to tell you that right now.”
The recovery effort will include major road repairs on Highway 34 from Loveland to Estes Park. The town of Drake remains cut off due to damage to that road to the east and west. Other pockets of population in the Big Thompson Canyon are also inaccessible.
“A couple of us had gotten up earlier and had seen that the Big Thompson River was creeping towards the edge of the park,” said Mike Evans, an evacuee from the River View RV Park and Campground west of Loveland, where the river “miraculously missed the property” but washed out the only bridge to it.
Evans said he and his family will likely be unable to return to their home for weeks or months, and he expects he’ll be at the Red Cross shelter in Loveland the whole time. He’s been staying there with about 80 others.
“They’re doing a great job,” he told CBS4.
Evans and other evacuatees are now coming to grips with the reality that there’s no telling when they will be able to go home.
“We’re all figuring out what’s next,” he said. “I don’t think any of us are really processing what’s going on.”
For some evacuees, keeping a sense of humor seems to be one thing that is helping them through.
“If I stop laughing then it’s all over,” said evacuee Aloysius McLaughlin, who has been in the evacuation center since Thursday night after the property he rents was heavily damaged.
Larimer County has set up a disaster assistance center and it will be open starting Wednesday at 14th Southwest and Taft Avenue in Loveland (814 14th SW, in Building B). A distribution center opened Monday morning to provide supplies for evacuees.
“I’ve been in this business 40 years and I’ve not seen anything quite like this,” Mirowski said.
Larimer County officials say there are hundreds of people who are unaccounted for. It’s a number that troubles Sheriff Justin Smith.
“I think it’s reasonable to expect that that possibility (more fatalities) is certainly there,” Smith told CBS4.
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.