BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– The Boulder County Sheriff said it won’t be a quick recovery in the aftermath of devastating flooding that tore apart several communities in Colorado, including his hometown.
Although the search and rescue operation in Boulder County is slowing down the work to begin rebuilding is just beginning.
There were no new evacuations from Boulder County on Wednesday for the first time since last week.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle believes it won’t take months but years to rebuild after highways, roads, sewers and bridges were destroyed along with more than 550 homes either damaged or destroyed in the county.
“This is catastrophic,” said Pelle. “When you go up and look at the roads, some of them will be months or years to be rebuilt.”
Pelle got an aerial view of the damage for the first time since flooding began. Even though Pelle grew up here and knows every square mile, he barely recognized it anymore.
“Lefthand Canyon is not a repair job. It is a start completely over job,” said Pelle.
Boulder County has recovered from major disasters before, most recently wildfires but a flood is completely different.
“After a fire you normally see a disaster recovery center set up and all the insurance companies come in and they deal with people with their insurance and they help them out. And what I’m learning is very, very few people have flood insurance,” said Pelle.
That means there won’t be checks arriving to rebuild. The only money most people will receive is a couple of thousand dollars from FEMA for temporary housing.
“When I stand there and watch those people come off those helicopters and realize what they’ve been through and what they’re going to go through, I can’t help but get emotional at times,” said Pelle.
Among the victims the volunteer firefighters who respond to emergencies in the mountain communities.
“How do we provide basic services like fire and EMS to these mountain communities?” asked Pelle.
“We have this huge road to recovery ahead of us that’s going to be long term.”
There are low-interest loans available to flood victims who qualify through the Small Business Administration. That is where most people will get money to rebuild.
The reality is only 22,000 people in the entire state of Colorado have flood insurance.
Right now Pelle said most people don’t need shoes, socks, toiletries and blankets but money.
The University of Colorado said it could take months just to figure out how much it will cost to fix campus buildings that flooded late last week.
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.