Weld County took the first official step Monday in what is sure to be a lengthy process to recover the cost of repairing roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged and destroyed in the flood.
A contract with FEMA, which stretches over the next five years, was approved by Weld County commissioners on Monday and more or less starts the reimbursement process for emergency and permanent repairs, estimated at about $20 million, said Roy Rudisill, emergency operations manager for Weld County.
With more than 150 miles of roadway and 20 major bridges damaged or demolished in the county, emergency repairs alone account for about $12 million.
The first chunk of funds FEMA has promised for emergency repairs is for Weld County Road 61, which was washed out in the flood, at a cost of $1.1 million, Rudisill said.
It will also be the first in a steady pile of hefty paperwork to land on state officials’ desks through September 2018, Rudisill said.
“That gives you an idea of what the state looks at, as far as the amount of time to get through all the projects,” he said.
Each repair must be documented correctly so that the county qualifies for reimbursement, and state officials must verify the hours, contracting and other costs to ensure it all matches, Rudisill said.
After that, the state will send to the county the FEMA reimbursement money, which should cover 75 percent of Weld County’s total repair and mitigation costs. The state has pledged another 12.5 percent, meaning the ultimate cost to Weld should be somewhere in the ballpark of $2.5 million.
Rudisill said the cost — and reimbursement amount — could fluctuate, because FEMA also reimburses for projects that improve on the original structure if they prevent the same damage from occurring again.
For example, a bridge may be rebuilt in a different way to mitigate damage in another flood event.