The Boulder County community is reeling from the aftermath of the Marshall Fire that swept through the towns of Superior and Louisville. As many of you likely know, this blaze was the most destructive in our state’s history. The fire burned at least 6,000 acres and destroyed 991 properties. Needless to say, thousands of our fellow Coloradans are facing unimaginable challenges right now. If you or someone you know has been displaced by the Marshall Fire, the following resources are available for those affected. Additional information and more comprehensive help (such as insurance resources) can be found here.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has allocated funds for victims of the Marshall Fire. Individuals who have been impacted can apply for assistance via www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 1-800-621-3362. Types of assistance may include grants for temporary housing or home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, and programs for both individuals and business owners.
Located at Boulder County Southeast County Hub (1755 South Public Road in Lafayette), the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center offers numerous services, including:
- COVID-19 testing
- Assistance with transportation and vouchers
- Emergency shelter referrals
- Consultations for property loss and support for filing claims
The Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center will operate from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm seven days per week, and is expected to remain open for at least three to four weeks.
With thousands of properties destroyed, many households are in desperate need for temporary housing. If you or someone you know needs a place to stay, there are numerous evacuation centers in Boulder County. Here are just a few of the options:
- The YMCA of Northern Colorado
- North Boulder Recreation Center
- Longmont Senior Center
- Rocky Mountain Christian Church
Losing a home or being exposed to the stress of the fire is a traumatic event, and it’s important to have access to support. Those who are experiencing a crisis may contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-8255 or by texting “TALK’ to 38255.
Young people who are struggling have access to three complimentary counseling sessions offered by I Matter.
The National Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) is also a great resource that’s available at each of the local evacuation shelters.
A member of the Boulder community who lost her home during the 2013 floods has thoughtfully shared this advice:
Shelter – find somewhere as fast as you can that will give you some stability and peace. The sooner you can “settle” without bouncing around friends, the better. If possible, rent for 6 mos minimum.
Insurance – file asap. There will be a long queue, better to get to the front of the line. Be prepared to be incredibly persistent and fight when necessary. Hopefully, depending on your situation, you will have coverage and the sooner you know what that looks like the sooner you can start to assess your options for the longer term.
Depending on your insurance situation you may have options for reimbursement on basic living expenses (hotel, clothing etc.) during this immediate phase. Keep receipts for everything. When in doubt, just keep the receipt.
Find a friend who is your “representative”. Make them the contact person to triage all the inbound offers of help from everyone else who wants to help you. Trust me, there will be lots of offers. Have your representative help you come up with a list of basic needs for living, clothing sizes etc. This will give folks some clear direction on how to help you.
Cash is king. Believe me it’s the weirdest thing to accept money but we did and you should. Cash and gift cards help most vs hand me downs. But you will need both so breathe in and out and say thank you. You might know what you need for the next few days but not the next few weeks and months. Encourage your representative to suggest cash and gift cards as they will offer the most flexibility but take what is offered and pass on what you don’t think you’ll need.
People will want to help. People you don’t know, never will know. Accept it. It’s weird and strange but this is community, this is love. You will see the best in humans and it will bring out the best in yourselves. Thank them, don’t feel guilty. One day you’ll pay it forward and in the meantime it will give you great comfort.
As soon as you’re ready, try to build a list of every item you’ve lost. I mean EVERY item. You may or may not need it for insurance. You will want it for taxes as you’ll be filing a casualty loss. It’s not easy to do this and doesn’t need to be done immediately.
The Boulder Community Foundation and other organizations will set up grants. Apply for everything. Friends can apply for programs on your behalf. We got $300 from a church I’ve never been to and $1,000 from Oskar Blues. Every bit helps. This will take some time before these things are available but you will want to be plugged in to the City of Louisville / Superior so you can go to the meetings, which will talk about options for grants, rebuilding etc. etc. These meetings aren’t easy as the need will be great but being smart about this will help you.
Biden has declared the Marshall Fire a federal disaster but not yet for individual personal property loss. This is still possible as they continue to survey the damage and would be helpful as it opens up federal support, including up to $35,500 in FEMA aid.
If you need to talk to someone. Find someone. If you need to scream, scream. This is a loss. A real loss you should not feel guilty for or minimize. Grieve how you need.
If you normally make quick decisions on big things. Do. If you don’t, give yourself time. If you’re lost, be kind to yourself and give yourself time. Your ideas about what you want to do will change.
Mortgage – if you have one, call your mortgage company. Some will be prepared to work with you to temporarily pause payments while you sort things out. Your options here can vary widely so definitely be making this call right away. It will also help that FEMA has made the designation to offer assistance (this means something to national mortgage companies) as of today.
Everyone should register here – http://www.disasterassistance.gov right away. The news today is positive as it will open up not just Federal funds for temporary housing and home repairs (this is the $35K max I mentioned) but it will also open up programs for low cost mortgages from the SBA and other programs (see list above).
The Marshall Fire has brought unimaginable destruction, leaving many households in our county with devastating loss. The resources mentioned here are just a few of the options that are available, and a more comprehensive guide (including lost document retrieval and pet services) can be found here. If you feel compelled to donate, you can contribute to the Boulder County Wildfire Fund organized by the Community Foundation of Boulder County. Looking for more ways to help? Here are some more ways to lend a helping hand.
By Jennifer Egbert. Jennifer is an award-winning, licensed Realtor® at milehimodern real estate in Boulder with over eleven years of experience. She specializes in Luxury neighborhoods, home builders and current market conditions. Visit jenniferegbert.com, e-mail [email protected] or call 303.619.3373.