BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Recovery efforts continue for those impacted by the Marshall Fire. President Joe Biden will visit the burn area on Friday.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Biden was praised by Gov. Jared Polis for his expedited approval of federal support to help victims in the Marshall Fire.
“President Biden was quick to authorize federal support after my verbal request. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell was on the ground within 48 hours of the fire,” said Polis.
First Lady Jill Biden will join the president to tour the burn area of Colorado’s most destructive fire.
RELATED: Resources For Marshall Fire Victims
Polis said that Colorado will use the presidential visit to make sure the federal government knows what Louisville and Superior need to recover.
Two people remain missing in the aftermath of the fire. State, federal and local governments continue to investigate the cause of the fire which started near Highway 93 and Marshall Road. That investigation includes dogs that can detect accelerants.
Winds of more than 100 mph fanned those flames that destroyed 991 homes. The timeline for cleanup is still being determined and the state is turning its attention to helping everyone affected by the fire recover and rebuild.
Polis urged everyone impacted by the Marshall Fire to go to the Disaster Assistance Center located at 1755 South Public Road in Lafayette. The center will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. It includes include specialists from Boulder County Housing and Human Services, Public Health, and Community Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mental Health Partners, many other area government and nonprofit organizations, and insurers.
“You could also connect with temporary housing providers to get clothing, grocery vouchers, phone chargers, pet food, whatever you need. The best part is you don’t even have to know what you need when you show up. The center has resource navigators who will listen to your story to help you identify what might be most helpful to you whether it’s FEMA, whether it’s nonprofit assistance, and I want to emphasize your home doesn’t have to be lost to utilize resources from the disaster center, or even damaged you may have simply had to evacuate for a while and not be able to return or lost the food in your refrigerator because it’s spoiled,” said Polis.
By Wednesday morning, 848 people had registered for help with transitional housing. Low interest loans are also available through the Small Business Administration, officials said.
During the press conference, Polis announced the state would offer tax relief for affected Coloradans, which would include extended filing and payment deadlines. Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera also announced community outreach counselors are available through the Colorado Spirit Marshall Fire Crisis Counseling Program.
Anyone interested in crisis counseling can contact the Mental Health Partners Marshall Fire response line at 303-413-6282, or Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255.
“Reach out if you need help,” Primavera said. “This isn’t a burden that you should have to shoulder by yourself.”
Emergency officials also urged everyone to file insurance claims as soon as possible and keep receipts for everything purchased so it can be submitted to insurance. Insurance commissioner Mike Conway called insurance a “key part of the recovery” and said his office will host more town halls to help people through the process.
“Keep receipts for everything that you have. Keep receipts for things that normally you wouldn’t keep receipts for,” Conway said.
“I can’t promise you folks that there aren’t going to be bumps in the road. There probably will be bumps in the road, but we’re going to help you get through those.”
Financial help will soon be available through the Department of Labor and Employment. During the press conference, director Joe Barela announced the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program.
Barela said under the program, anyone whose livelihood was interrupted by the fire, including self employed people, are eligible for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Claims must be filed online by February 2 on coloradoui.gov, or by phone at 303-318-9000.
“There is recourse if that’s where you went to work everyday, even if you were in an area unaffected by fire,” Gov. Polis said about the program. “If you commuted from Aurora or Longmont, but you commuted to a place of business in Superior, Louisville, Lafayette that is no longer there, is no longer open.”