Eastwood Village and Bella Vista mobile home parks were hard hit by the September floods. The City of Evans and Weld County are frustrated because they lack the authority to force the mobile home park owners to clean up flood debris, which they believe will become a health hazard this spring.
Officials estimate removal of the 208 destroyed units between the two parks will cost about $1 million. They say the responsibility to remove the debris lies with the park owners.
However one park owner said he can’t legally remove the trailers because all of the people living in that park owned their own units. Making the situation worse, he carries a mortgage on the property and will not be able to rebuild because of revised floodplain regulations.
Evans officials applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to remove the private debris, but the city’s application was denied. The denial is under appeal. FEMA very rarely approves of money to be used for debris removal from private property.
There is another FEMA program that would allow Evans to purchase the mobile home parks to mitigate the hazards, but nothing could be built on that land, and the City would have to pay a 25 percent match to purchase the land at pre-flood prices.
Compounding the issue, Evans can’t apply for that program for another four to six months, which is too late to address the health hazards, which will worsen as soon as the weather warms. Neighbors are already complaining about the smell from these parks and Weld County Health has declared the parks to be a public nuisance but that is all it can do at this point.
Local officials have asked the Governor for help. But the State is still waiting for the federal Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) to implement a plan that would allow Evans to apply for money from a community development grant specifically geared toward disaster recovery. The plan would allow communities that sustained localized flood damage to get aid in removing debris and structures to avoid slum and blight in those areas.