SUPERIOR, Colo. (KDVR) — Moving forward after the devastating Marshall Fire, state and local leaders gathered in Superior to talk about the response and what’s next for those impacted.
Dozens of community members showed up, including Eric Hiivala, who lost his home in the fire.
“That was a house that my wife and I lived in together. We lived in it for 15 years and our daughter was literally born upstairs,” Hiivala said. “It had a special place in my heart with all the community connection, the friends and just all the hard work that I put into the community that went up in flames.”
Gov. Jared Polis, state Sen. Lisa Cutter, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway and other local leaders talked about tax relief qualifications, state funding distribution and insurance hurdles.
“We have to have these standards in a world where climate change is impacting us in such huge ways, where we have fires like this that are going to recur, we have to figure out how to solve this problem, and we’re going to do that,” Conway said.
Marshall Fire victims still struggle with funding, insurance
Many fire victims said the qualifications for certain funding are too restrictive. Polis said the state is working on it.
“So the money will get out. It’s done. It doesn’t go to anything else,” Polis said. “But to put it in perspective of the roughly thousand, over a thousand homes lost, this is estimated to provide up to $50,000 to about 220 people.”
Several fire victims said they’re tired of going back and forth with insurance companies over rebuilding efforts.
“You’re telling lenders and servicers releasing and funding for the rebuilds, but most of our frustration to this point is I’ve spent a year of filling out paperwork with the SBA (Small Business Administration) and I still don’t know what funding,” Hiivala said. “I feel like I’ve lost an enormous part of my life that I’ll never get back.”
Much of the discussion also focused on ongoing fire mitigation efforts.
“We’re bringing a lot of federal resources to those areas to do critical mitigation work,” Neguse said. “The next big fire, the most destructive fire, is not necessarily going to happen out in a national forest where that mitigation work is occurring every day.”
Hiivala told FOX31 he’s thankful these conversations are still happening.
“It’s nice that it’s not being forgotten and there are still challenges and new challenges keep evolving as we go further in this process. On the other hand, it’s frustrating we still don’t have some of the answers I’d hope to by now with the cause of the fire,” Hiivala said.
State leaders are encouraging those impacted by the Marshall Fire to reach out to them with their concerns, so they can continue working toward solutions.