BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — As Louisville and Superior begin to transition from the crisis phase to recovery, many in the community are wondering what will happen next.
“People are starting to ask the question, what about clearing the property? What about rebuilding? How is that going to work?” Superior Mayor Clint Folsom said.
“People are asking really detailed questions about how do I do this? When can I do this? And it’s really hard to say please be patient and let us go through this process,” Louisville City Councilman Caleb Dickinson said.
According to both city leaders, the top priority right now is continuing to provide emergency assistance to those impacted by the fire.
However, efforts are also starting to shift toward cleanup. The burn zone is filled with toxic soot and debris.
“We’re working with FEMA right now to do a cleanup of the entire disaster area from a public health standpoint,” Dickinson said.
Cleanup is expected to take several weeks.
“I think once the burn sites are cleared off and we can remove the visual images of charred cars and houses with just chimneys standing and once we do that we can kind of remove that from the landscape, I think we will, we will be getting there,” Folsom said.
Following cleanup, Folsom said businesses may need assistance similar to what they got during the height of the pandemic.
“The town issued a number of small business grants, emergency grants to help businesses … survive and keep going and we could perhaps need to look at that again as this evolves,” he said.
Louisville and Superior will also need to assess how many displaced residents will choose to remain in the towns and how many will move away permanently.
“The question of whether they come back is, remains to be seen,” Folsom said.
The next few months will likely be the toughest. Folsom and Dickinson both said they believe there will be significant progress in one year.
“I think having any new homes built within a year is probably not realistic but certainly some significant progress toward some new houses,” Folsom said.
“What I picture are events. I picture pot lucks, I picture block parties in the middle of construction,” Dickinson said.
They each acknowledge that the recovery phase will be long and difficult. However, both city leaders are confident their communities will thrive once again.
“That care and that love and that appreciation for our neighbors, we have to keep that up for years. This is going to take years,” Dickinson said.
“It’s not going to be until we have new houses and blooming trees and people in those houses until we’re back to ‘normal’ normal,” Folsom said.