GLEN HAVEN, Colo. (CBS4) – After last fall’s flooding the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave thousands of dollars to a small Colorado community, but now FEMA says the grant was a mistake and wants its money back.
Inside the Big Thompson Canyon the mountain hamlet of Glen Haven has had to go it alone since the floods. Much of it is privately owned and not eligible for government aid, and now what little help they did get is in jeopardy.READ MORE: Teen In Critical Condition After Being Shot Following Argument Near Aurora Restaurant
There’s a saying locals use to describe the year since the floods – “We wouldn’t want to go through it again, but wouldn’t give it up for the world.”
“It’s the truth because it’s brought this community together,” said Dave Johnson, Glen Haven Association President.
Johnson says that’s the silver lining that’s come out of tragedy — private donations of dump trucks and road fill, 74-year-old volunteers operating the equipment, and church groups rebuilding homes.
“Without that we wouldn’t have what we have today,” Johnson said.
Despite progress, Glen Haven faces many challenges. The flood wiped out Fox Creek Road, cutting off access to people’s homes, so those residents applied to FEMA for help. In January FEMA granted their request, giving seven residents more than $20,000 each. The group pooled the money.
“When it’s awarded in January of course you think you have that for the road repair and that’s exactly what it’s going for,” said Joan Van Horn, Fox Creek Road resident.
Months later FEMA is now asking residents like Van Horn for the money back.
“They said, ‘You do qualify for this, you should receive this.’ Of course we’re grateful and we have real good use for it, this road, and so to take it back was a real shock,” she said.READ MORE: Judge Rules David Lesh Used National Lands Illegally To Promote Outdoor Apparel Company
FEMA says once it learned the town has an association, by law it had to ask for the money back. The Fox Creek Road residents are appealing, arguing they are not part of a homeowners association.
Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke about the issue Monday.
“We want to step up and try to resolve it favorably to the affected citizens,” Hickelooper said. “They’ve been through so much; the last thing we want is to have to have them hassle through one more thing.”
As people who live along Fox Creek Road wait for FEMA’s response, the work of Glen Haven’s residents and volunteers rolls on.
The group members said they have not yet spent all of the $150,000-plus awarded to them.
FEMA said there is another option for the homeowners — a small business association loan they can apply for, but that legally FEMA has to recoup its money.
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