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Fort Lupton Library will be flood relief assistance site

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By Ben Wiebesiek

GREELEY — Colorado Spirit, the Weld County Flood Recovery Outreach Team, is hosting specific days, times and locations on a regular basis where they will have a presence in several Weld County communities. 

Colorado Spirit focuses on crisis counseling and helping to identify community resources available to assist survivors in flood recovery. 

Anyone affected by the September 2013 flood is welcome to come by to meet with one of the Teams.

Each Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., members of the flood recovery outreach team will be at the Fort Lupton Public and School Library, at 425 Denver Ave., to provide resources to affected residents.

Debbie Pilch, team leader for the Colorado Spirit Presence in Weld Communities, described the group as a crisis-counseling program funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re actually employed by North Range Behavioral Health,” Pilch said. “There’s one of our sites right there in Fort Lupton across from Santiago’s. We are a community mental health center serving both mental health and substance abuse treatments services.”

Whenever there is a nationally declared disaster, then the state solicits grant applications from the mental health centers in all the affected counties.

“So North Range was approached by the state of Colorado after the floods in 2013,” Pilch said. “North Range wrote a grant at the end of December, and it was funded by FEMA, and what that does is it allows them, under the grant money, to hire what are called ‘outreach specialists.’ We currently have eight outreach specialists, two team leads and myself as a team manager, and then a data collection support person.”

The team goes door to door in all the affected areas to provide resource connections to residents. The Weld team is working closely with Weld Recovers, which is a long-term recovery committee established to monitor the flood recovery efforts in the county.

“One of our first charges when we hit ground was to make sure people got signed up for the FEMA grants as well as the small business administration loans in the communities that were affected,” Pilch said. “We also go door to door in the rural farming areas because, of course, many of our rural people were right along the rivers. Of course, then there was Evans that lost at least 208 mobile homes in the mobile home park.”

Pilch said the Colorado Spirit teams will be on the ground in Weld County until at least the end of this year.

“We have determined that if we have a regular presence at a location in some of our communities, that perhaps would afford people that maybe we’ve missed — because we don’t know where they’re living because their house was destroyed — an option for us to connect them to resources, connect them with Weld Recovers for long-term recovery,” Pilch said.

There are currently 11 Colorado Spirit teams operating across the state.

“Larimer, Boulder, there were some areas of Denver, of course Weld, Logan, Sterling – because after the water went through here, it landed in Sterling,” Pilch said. “It’s an awesome program.”

If you have questions, call 970-347-2398, email the Colorado Spirit team at coloradospiritweld@gmail.com, or message the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coloradospiritweld.