The view from aboard a Colorado National Guard helicopter, in which Gov. Jared Polis on Dec. 31, 2021, got a flyover tour of Boulder County neighborhoods destroyed by wildfires the previous day. He was accompanied by Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, Adjutant General of Colorado, and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle. Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse also toured the area in a separate helicopter. (Hart Van Denburg/CPR, pool)
Federal help is available for those who lost their homes or businesses in the Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado history.
To apply for cash assistance beyond what their insurance will cover, people can visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The Marshall Fire began late Thursday morning amid high-speed winds and rapidly grew to approximately 6,000 acres in Boulder County, fueled by dry grasses, the remnants of a nearly snowless November and December. A snowstorm Friday put a stop to further spreading, but not before the flames had swallowed entire suburban neighborhoods in Louisville and Superior, destroying 991 homes and damaging 127.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle announced at a noon news conference Sunday that 1 of 3 missing people had been accounted for, leaving two people still missing. Pelle did not provide further details but was scheduled to speak at another news conference Sunday afternoon.
Boulder County residents and business owners who need help applying for disaster assistance can meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency staff from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center, located at 1755 S. Public Road in Lafayette. The center will also be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Polis said.
“There are $200,000 loans for property damage (to businesses) that’s above the amount that’s insured,” Gov. Jared Polis said during the midday news conference, which was held at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and streamed live on Facebook. “That’s at a rate of 1.43% for 30 years, so folks should take advantage of that.”
For people who lost property in their homes, the SBA will loan up to $40,000 to cover uninsured losses, Polis added.
Polis, a Democrat, encouraged people struggling with the mental health impacts of last week’s fires — which burned through nearly 1,000 homes — to contact Colorado Crisis Services by phone or text.
Anyone experiencing a substance use or mental health crisis can reach a trained professional at any time by dialing 1-844-493-8255 or texting “TALK” to 38255.
“We did just tour the area, and the pictures that I was seeing on the television before today just don’t even come close to what you see when you go look at it in person and the amount of devastation,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who also spoke at the news conference. “I’ve spent most of my life here in Colorado, and so to come back home to this is shocking.”
Criswell raised her children in Colorado, and she formerly worked as a firefighter and emergency manager in Aurora, she said.
Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann and Superior Mayor Clint Folsom also toured the burn area Sunday. The suburb and town have populations of 21,226 and 13,094, respectively, according to the latest census.
“Driving around and seeing these burned-out sites, you immediately identify with who lived there … They are your friends,” Folsom said. “We will get through this together, and appreciate the great support that you all are providing.”
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Editor’s note: This article was updated at 3:40 p.m. Jan. 2, 2022, to correct when FEMA’s phone line is open.
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