Colorado flood damage could exceed $1 billion

The waters have not yet receded in some places, but already officials and businesses around the state are tallying up the costs.

By Bruce Kennedy Sep 16, 2013 3:45PM

Water flows through an evacuated neighborhood after days of flooding in Hygeine, Colo., Sunday Sept. 15, 2013 © Brennan Linsley/APIt's only September, but already 2013 has been a hellacious year for natural disasters in Colorado.


June wildfires in the Colorado Springs area were some of the costliest in state history. And now, the historic floods in northern Colorado are expected to not only impact residents directly in harm's way, but some important state industries -- including tourism, oil and agriculture.


Given the overall scope of the destruction, warns The Weather Channel, "don't be surprised to see the total damage figure from this event exceeding $1 billion, once damage to homes, roads, bridges, other infrastructure and agricultural losses is estimated."


As of Monday, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management, more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed, while nearly 17,500 other residential structures have been damaged and around 11,750 people forced to evacuate.


One of the big concerns is how the devastation will affect Colorado's essential tourism industry, both in the long- and short-term. In 2008, according to state figures, tourism employed over 144,000 people locally -- while in 2009 visitors to Colorado spent $8.6 billion on tourism-related expenditures.


And those expenditures are especially important to the state's high-country towns near prime Colorado tourist destinations. A recent study found visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park added close to $200 million to local economies annually while creating more than 2,700 jobs. Towns like Estes Park, just outside the national park, are digging out and hoping for the best -- while evaluating their losses.


"It's an economic blow. A financial haircut," Ernie Petrocine, owner of Outdoor World, told The Estes Park Trail Gazette. His store's interior is coated in mud and he's planning a half-price sale for damaged merchandise. "For the town, too, since they live off the sales tax revenue," he added.


Rick Benton, general manager of the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, tells MSN moneyNOW there are 50 local operations still open for business -- including a number of resorts -- and that the town is "is rapidly recovering due to a great town administration and emergency response teams."


Meanwhile, analysts say that many small businesses across the state, under financial pressure from the economic downturn and dealing with recent drought conditions, do not have the flood insurance needed to cover their current losses -- which could cripple or permanently close down a large number of operations.


But Colorado will bounce back, says Martin Shields, an economics professor at Colorado State University. "We'll rebuild roads and we'll rebuild bridges, and that's actually going to create jobs," he told MSN moneyNOW. "There will be probably a lot of federal money that comes in and that will be good from a jobs perspective."


More on moneyNOW

98Comments
Sep 16, 2013 9:44PM
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OK Here goes. I am an insurance adjuster and there is one thing you all should know. Flood insurance must be voted in by the community (local politicians). If it is not and you do not live in a flood plane you cannot get it even if you want it. Most of those affected do not live in a 100 year flood zone so therefore, they cannot get flood insurance. Number 2. Very few of these people are the rich or upper middle class. These people are the hard working people that go to work every day and pay their taxes. Their tax dollars went to help those hurt by 911, Katrina and several other previous disasters where other people had no insurance to cover their losses so they should have theirs and your tax dollars help them now when they are in need (wouldn't you want the same assistance).

All I ask is that you put yourselves in their shoes. One day it is fine and life is good and then BAM, everything you own is gone. Your house, cars and all your personal property and possibly even a family member or two. There was no insurance available for you to purchase prior to the flood event. Would you not want assistance.

Notice I use the word assistance. There are no handouts except from Red Cross, Salvation Army, or church groups. The money available is from FEMA and comes in the form of a loan from SBA.

Again all I ask is that you put yourselfs in their shoes and think about what if this happened to you.

Maybe the day will come for you.

Sep 16, 2013 8:13PM
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how many foreign countries have rushed in aid for the people in colorado??????? if this flood was in mexico or france america would have sent billions in aid by now. how come no foreign country helps us?? answer is they hate us!!!!!!!!
Sep 16, 2013 7:33PM
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It'll be interesting to see how much aid Colorado gets compared to NY and NJ.
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I've got it ! !    Have everyone buy every replacement item Made in the U.S.A. ! ! !
Sep 16, 2013 8:07PM
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Why only $1billion, doesn't Colorado rate high enough? They handed out $60 billion to the east coast last year and said it probably wasn't enough. The flooding in Colorado covers the size of Connecticut. We've got democrats in Colorado too!
Sep 16, 2013 8:21PM
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This is another good reason for staying out of other peoples Wars!
Sep 16, 2013 10:37PM
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I live in Denver, Colorado surrounded by the flooding... Thats DENVER,COLORADO, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!  Where's our President?  Our state carried him through the last elections, and this is how he repays us?  NO show, no support, concern.   I don't want to here any crap that he's busy dealing with Syria.  Colorado is America, not Syria.  Had I known that this is how he prioritizes important issues, he never would have won.  This is another example how America (president, senators, congressmen) spends AMERICAN money helping other nations and not their own people who foot the bill.  This MUST STOP!  All I can say now is F_ _ _  You Obama, don't come to Colorado anymore!

Former long time democrat.

Sep 16, 2013 7:49PM
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This is where the government will say you should have had more flood insurance and we can not help you, besides we are to busy sending your tax dollar over seas.
Sep 16, 2013 9:21PM
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At 85 billion a month for quantitive easing, maybe the Fed could print a few more dollars to bail out Colorado?
Sep 16, 2013 7:09PM
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It is amazing to me how petty and selfish people on this thread are   particularly Someone and spendthrift.... a lot of people who have lost everything do not live in box canyons or mansions  
Sep 16, 2013 11:28PM
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If we would stop giving billions of dollars a year to countries who hate us, we would have the money to help Americans who have been victims of disasters such as the floods and the wildfires we have experienced this summer.  We would also have money to assist folks who truly deserve welfare assistance.  Not included in that are the young folks who are in great health but are getting welfare and very nice monthly pay raises for each new child they bring into the world.  Something needs to be done considering that!!!!!  Lets resurrect the WPA!!
Sep 16, 2013 11:54PM
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Our home flooded during the May 2010 floods in Nashville.  We were overwhelmed by the volunteers, both friends and strangers that just showed up.  We didn't wait around for handouts from the government.  We pulled together and moved forward.  I wish there was a little more give and a little less take and cynicism in our country today.  We feel blessed every day to live in this country and our hearts go out to those in Colorado.
Sep 16, 2013 8:30PM
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Don't worry folks. The government will promise aid and help out just as they did in Joplin, Katrina and all of the other false promises. " Sure, we will promise lot's aid" And as every other promise goes they will say they set aside millions but nothing ever gets done
Sep 16, 2013 8:51PM
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I lived in the Lyons, Longmont area just outside Boulder back in the late 60's and it was a beautiful area. Last time I went back it made me sick to see the urban sprawl of Boulder County. They passed a law that you couldn't build a house until you tore one down so there are a lot of vacant small lots around and multi-million dollar homes all the way up to Estes Park. Homes cantilevered out of the sides of the mountains and landscaped with little regard to landslides and runoff. It looked like what you'd see in the Hollywood Hills and now they are paying the price. Not all, but a lot of the damage is the result of uncontrolled runoff from these ego trip monstrosities. Beautiful, yes, practical, NO. Now people in the valleys and small towns are suffering more than they should have from the reckless building boom in the valley. When John Denver stated he wanted a ticket to space when they started commercial travel the people of Denver started a collection. To buy him a one way ticket. Rocky Mountain High!
Sep 16, 2013 11:28PM
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The thing that riles me up is the fact that the waters haven't even begun receding yet, but for some reason they already know how much money is needed. Why must everything have a dollar amount attached to it? Why can't they give us first-hand reports of the needs of THE PEOPLE? Now, for the people who are complaining about the government not caring ....... shame on you. I would like to think that you realize an assessment must be performed first before a plan of action can commence. Damage is widespread, and many people have yet to be recognized. So before you start chastising the government, think about the whole picture and not just what you think you see. I would hope you have seen the video reporting of men, women, and children being airlifted to safety.
That is an example of the Local, State, and Federal governments working in unison to help. Need more proof that the government is working? Sheesh ........
Sep 16, 2013 10:08PM
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Once you figure in the GOUGE Factor I'm sure it will cost at least that much.
Sep 16, 2013 8:00PM
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We're not worried in Colorado.  Our  Democrat governor will just call our Democrat in the White House and China will loan the money to fix our bridges, rebuild our homes, and provide for the displaced.
Sep 16, 2013 8:57PM
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No more American people to help America, now is just a bunch third world foreigners.
Sep 16, 2013 7:10PM
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oh and skyjacker and lawrence jarosak   you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!
Sep 16, 2013 8:53PM
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 If you have a good river slope that will never happen.
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