Some 2013 Flood Homeowners Are Still Waiting For Government Buyouts

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<p>Courtesy of Meg McCroskey</p>
Photo: Flood 2-year anniversary McCroskey home before and after
The McCroskey's home in Salina before and after the historic floods of September 2013.

Two years ago, as devastating floods inundated the Front Range, Meg and Sean McCroskey's home in Four Mile Canyon above Boulder was reduced to wreckage.

Today, they rent a place in Longmont. They say their credit rating has suffered. So has their chance of buying a new home, because they can't pay the mortgage on their damaged property.

Photo: Flood 2-year anniversary McCroskey property nowThey aren't alone.

The McCroskeys are among about 100 families in Boulder County who have asked their local governments -- in this case towns or counties -- to buy their land and any rubble on it. The money would come through a complicated process in which the local government petitions the state, which then seeks federal money for the purchase, according to a spokesman from FEMA.

The problem is that this process can take a very long time -- a year or more. While families wait, their financial problems often grow.

Colorado sustained an estimated $4 billion in damage during the floods. It's received $1.7 billion so far, mostly from the federal government to help property owners and other victims. Insurance, donations, or property owners' pockets are also helping the recovery. Meanwhile, even if Colorado gets more federal money, the executive director of the state's recovery office, Molly Urbina, says homeowners should understand that "the funding is never going to get them back to where they were before."

"There's definitely more damage than there's going to be funding," she said.

FEMA is one of the agencies that funds the flood buyouts. Rich Hansen manages the buyouts for the 2013 floods for FEMA, and says there are other delays in sorting out damages. Some homeowners don't decide right away that a buyout is their best option, and the local or state government has to decide that participating in the program at all makes sense, for example.

But some homeowners should get good news soon. Hansen says the agency has sent the state funds to help buy 58 properties in Boulder County. The state will then pass the money to the county or the towns of Lyons and Jamestown to complete the sales. Abby Shannon, who's managing the program for Boulder County, hopes to close on some of those properties by the end of 2015.

McCroskey and Shannon spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.