Disaster Assistance Center opens in Lafayette as a ‘one-stop shop’ for recovery resources

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A home in Louisville on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, after it was destroyed by the Marshall fire. The Marshall fire ignited Dec. 30, 2021, in Boulder County and destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in and around Superior and Louisville, and left thousands of people scrambling to evacuate, driven by winds that sometimes exceeded 100 mph.

More than 42,000 donors have raised about $12 million for the victims of the Marshall fire. 

“The word philanthropy in Greek means the love of humanity. Tens of thousands of people have poured their love, their philanthropy into us, so that we can pour that love into you,” said Tatiana Hernandez, CEO of Community Foundation Boulder County on Tuesday during a press conference. “We are accountable to you, our community, and we'll be with you every step of the way as we rebuild.”

On Sunday, Community Foundation Boulder County approved a grant for the County of Boulder of $5 million to disburse to victims who had their homes damaged or lost and are in need of financial assistance. Another $500,000 in direct financial assistance was also approved and will be dispersed through the Disaster Assistance Center that opened this week to help victims access resources.

People impacted by the fires and interested in receiving direct financial funding can visit the Center at 1755 S. Public Road, Lafayette. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Regardless of whether you are in financial need or not, it is important for you to connect with Boulder county staff whenever you can,” Hernandez said. “So that we can in partnership with them better understand your needs, current and future.” 

Multiple services in one place

The Disaster Assistance Center opened Monday. By Tuesday, 250 people had walked in and applied for assistance through FEMA, said Gary Sanfacon, disaster recovery manager for Boulder county. That was on top of the other 370 people who applied for FEMA assistance online.

“I want to just make clear that the Disaster Assistance Center is a one-stop shop for everyone that was impacted by the fire. You don't have to be someone who just lost your home,” Sanfacon said. “[And] there's more there than FEMA. There's a lot of other services.”

The Center will be open for several weeks. Insurance companies are also in the parking lot at the Center to help answer questions and connect victims with resources. 

Scott MacLaughlin is a volunteer firefighter with the Boulder Emergency Squad. His family lost their home in the Marshall Fire and came to the Disaster Assistance Center on Tuesday to find out what support was available. 

“My wife is talking to people. We’re grabbing some pet supplies. We’re fortunate that we have insurance,” MacLaughlin said. “But you know, it doesn’t cover everything and it can’t replace things that aren’t replaceable.” 

Along with assistance with claims, the center is also providing food, mental health services, transportation, and housing information. 

“One of the things we really wanna advocate is take your time. You don't need to hurry into the Disaster Assistance Center,” Sanfacon said. “You should be taking care of yourself and your family as your number one priority.”

He emphasized that there’s financial assistance for everyone affected by Thursday’s Fire.

How You Can Help

Officials stressed that there’s no more room for physical donations (including food) from the community. However, financial donations are welcome. 

“Please do not bring your donations, your physical items to any location within the county right now,” Boulder County Emergency Manager Joycelyn Frankhouser said. “We will be having a nonprofit setting up a donation site where you can drop all of those items off, where they'll be made free and available to anyone who is affected.”

That location will be advertised when it’s set up. To volunteer, go to ColoradoResponds.org and sign up for the newsletter where volunteer opportunities will be posted. Many of the organizations that will assist in rebuilding homes will also need volunteers, just not yet, Frankhouser said. 

Paolo Zialcita contributed to this report.