DENVER (AP) — Gov. John Hickenlooper named a recovery chief on Thursday to lead the state’s reconstruction after destructive flooding and said transportation officials will expedite fixes to highways and bridges.
Englewood-based IHS Inc. Executive Chairman Jerre Stead will be responsible for overseeing rebuilding efforts, including transportation, housing, and advocating for federal funding. IHS is a global information company with experts in fields including energy and economics.
Hickenlooper praised Stead as one of the most talented executives in the state. The governor’s office said Stead and his company staff will not be paid.
“Jerre was really sent from heaven to do this task,” Hickenlooper said.
Stead will also work with FEMA and the state’s Office of Emergency Management. Other responsibilities will include “ensuring quality control of work,” according to the governor’s office, working with state lawmakers, fundraising for recovery, and establishing a system for volunteers to help rebuild homes. The state says nearly 2,000 homes were damaged.
“I hope a year from now we’re going to be able to say that we built thousands of homes with volunteers and community support,” Hickenlooper said. “I hope a year from now we’ll be able to say that Colorado is a national model of how we bounce back from this kind of disaster.”
Also Thursday, the governor said a new group within the Colorado Department of Transportation department will focus on repairing and reconstructing as much of the state highway system as possible by Dec. 1. More than 200 miles of roads and 50 bridges have been impacted.
“It’s clear we’re in a race against the onset of winter,” Hickenlooper said.
The new group, called the Infrastructure Recovery Force, will focus on clearing debris and building temporary roads and bridges in the coming months to communities that have been cut off by the floods.
“It is imperative that we restore as much highway infrastructure as possible in the next two to three months,” CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt said.
The group will also work on constructing permanent infrastructure in the coming year.
With damage assessments still ongoing, Hickenlooper said it’s too soon to determine whether Colorado will ask Congress for a relief bill like the one for Hurricane Sandy.
“We’ll see where we come out, but yes that’s certainly a distinct possibility. We don’t have enough information yet,” he said.
By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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.