Biden: Government Shutdown Won't Impact Aid for Colorado Floods

Fixing ruined roads will cost "several hundred million dollars," Gov. John Hickenlooper's office estimated Monday after he and Vice President Joe Biden flew over flood-ravaged mountain canyons and towns.
September 24, 2013
 

Fixing ruined roads will cost "several hundred million dollars," Gov. John Hickenlooper's office estimated Monday after he and Vice President Joe Biden flew over flood-ravaged mountain canyons and towns.

That's far more than the $135 million identified so far by the state and federal governments.

But riveting high-level attention to Colorado's urgent needs will ensure sufficient financial help, Hickenlooper said Monday.

He and Biden and a state-federal team spent more than an hour in helicopters, dipping and swooping over canyons west of Boulder, Lyons and Loveland, where floodwaters ripped out miles of road and isolated communities.

"This is why you want to make sure that the president and vice president of the United States see just how bad it is," Hickenlooper said in an interview.

Biden later talked with state leaders — including U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Reps. Michael Coffman, Cory Gardner and Jared Polis — "and could not have been more supportive," the governor said.

"He was very specific. He said: You're not going to have to worry about the sequestration or the government being shut down. The whole country is behind you," Hickenlooper said.

Yet Colorado faces a dilemma, one that must be resolved as quickly as Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has to decide the next play, Hickenlooper said.

Either rebuild mountain roads higher in canyons and stronger — to withstand what may be increasingly frequent big floods — at much greater expense and delay. Or rebuild more quickly and cheaply, without homes nearby, with the understanding they likely would be washed away again.

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