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Marshall Fire survivors share struggles, obstacles with Neguse, local leaders

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse surveyed the damage 10 weeks after the Marshall Fire and held a roundtable discussion.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D) on Monday toured the damage in Boulder County, now 10 weeks after the Marshall Fire.

Afterward, he spoke to residents during a roundtable discussion about their concerns and the main obstacles they face as they seek to rebuild.

Local leaders joined Neguse, including the mayors of Louisville and Superior, two Boulder County commissioners and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle.

Homeowners brought up a range of concerns including climate change, Small Business Association (SBA) loans, insurance and building codes.

“The process is extremely complicated,” said Audrey DeBarros, who is trying to rebuild. “I’m not a professional fire insurance person. Just understanding the process along with the building experience and what that will look like, along with a really condensed timeline, makes for a really challenging environment on top of the emotional loss of losing everything.” 

DeBarros said that following green building codes could “push her over the edge” on the financial cost of rebuilding. She asked the City of Louisville to ensure the building codes are suspended.

RELATED: Marshall Fire survivors share their journeys toward recovery

Other residents spoke about their hesitancy to rebuild with the growing concern of climate change. 

“To try to get to a new way where we can really be energy independent, where we can use renewables, would help us solve a lot of problems,” said Ellen Berry, who lives in unincorporated Boulder County.

All of the residents talks about the challenges they face when trying to move forward.

“We are all figuring this out. Everyone in this room is figuring it out. Nobody planned for this, nobody expected it, but every piece of the logistics is a fight,” said another roundtable attendee.

DeBarros asked for certainty and urgency from leaders to help residents who are struggling to rebuild before their short-term rental assistance comes to an end.

Many families have 12 months of rental coverage, while others have 24 months. Many said they worry they won’t be able to rebuild within that timeframe without having to pay out of pocket.

“The two things you asked for are imminently reasonable requests – urgency and certainty," Neguse said. "Certainly, what I can promise you is that everyone here has that same sense of urgency. The certainty has been harder to come by just from start to finish.”

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RELATED: Boulder County faces delays with debris removal amid appeals, court battle

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