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Bush declares state of Colorado a disaster area

Donna Daniels

In light of the wildfires that have ravaged Colorado in the last few months, and at the request of Colorado Governor Bill Owens, President Bush declared the state a disaster area on Wednesday.

“As I visited the fires burning around our state, the saddest and most difficult times were when I talked with families who had lost their homes and possessions,” Owens said in a prepared statement. “The federal assistance will help many of these families start rebuilding their lives.”

For the victims of the Coal Seam Fire in Glenwood Springs, that means they can now apply for federal financial assistance, said Gary Gleason, public information officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA will coordinate the financial assistance program.

He urged anyone who feels they have suffered a loss to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

“Don’t disqualify yourself by not calling,” he said.

Individuals and families who were officially evacuated for more than five days, especially those who are either uninsured or don’t have enough insurance to cover their losses, can receive grants ranging from $2,000 to $14,800. Those grants can be used to cover clothing, medical costs, eyeglasses and transportation, Gleason said. They can also cover the expense of temporary housing.

Low-interest disaster loans are also available from the Small Business Administration to help home owners and renters, as well as businesses, to repair or replace disaster-related damages to home or personal property, he said.

According to a fact sheet from FEMA issued Wednesday, the SBA loans are available for up to $200,000 for a primary residence and $40,000 for personal property. Loans are available for up to $1.5 million for business property not fully covered by insurance.

People applying to FEMA for assistance should be prepared to provide basic information including insurance coverage and information to help substantiate the losses, the fact sheet said.

Locally, Glenwood Springs True Value is inviting victims who lost their home to set up an account of up to $500 to purchase merchandise.

“They don’t need to spend it all at once, “said True Value office manager Kim Price. “They can use the account as needed to help them put their lives back together.”

For more information, contact Glenwood True Value store manager Tom Maher, 945-5409.


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