Briefline

Government offers unemployment, mental health resources for Marshall Fire survivors

By: - January 5, 2022 2:46 pm

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)

People out of work due to the Marshall Fire could now qualify for over six months of unemployment benefits from the federal government as businesses rebuild. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Disaster Unemployment Assistance for people whose workplace was impacted by the fire, Department of Labor and Employment Director Joe Barela announced Wednesday. DUA allows people whose livelihood was interrupted by a declared disaster to receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

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“In addition to the homeowner impact, there were a number of stores — commercial office space and stores, both national chains and mom and pop. There is recourse, if that’s where you went to work every day,” Gov. Jared Polis said during a briefing on Wednesday morning. 

The benefits are also available for self-employed workers, who are not typically eligible for unemployment.

Barela said people who lost work due to the Marshall Fire should file a claim online at coloradoui.gov or by calling 303-318-9000 by Feb. 3. They will need a Social Security number and recent pay stubs or federal income tax forms if available. 

Workers at the Disaster Assistance Center, at 1755 S. Public Road, can help people replace those vital documents if they were destroyed in the fire and help them sign up for unemployment benefits. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is also standing up mental health resources for those affected by the fire, dubbed the Colorado Spirit Marshall Fire Crisis Counseling Program, or CCP.

“It would be impossible to overstate the impact this tragedy will have on the mental health of the Coloradans whose homes and businesses were lost,” Lt. Gov Dianne Primavera said. 

The program will offer anonymous crisis counseling, stress management, emotional recovery support and connections to other community resources.

While CCP is not operational yet, Primavera said that people in need of immediate help should contact the Marshall Fire Response Line at 303-413-6282 or the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255, or text TALK to 38255. 

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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