Colorado

May 29, 2014 1:06 AM by Maddie Garrett

Slow but Steady Rebuilding in Black Forest

Of the 498 homes destroyed in the Black Forest Fire, 198 have rebuilding permits as of the end of May 2014. At almost a year since the devastating fire, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department said these numbers are a positive sign, even if the rebuilding process isn't as quick as some people would hope.

"43 have been finaled, they're completed, ready to be moved in or already have people moved into them," said Regional Building Dept. Director of Building Operations, Roger Lovell, PE.

He said it may not sound like a lot, but not even a year after the fire, this is progress.

"I think as a community we need to be really proud of what we've accomplished," said Lovell.

But for people who are still struggling rebuild after the fire, it's not such a sunny outlook.

"At the beginning everybody was trying to help, first cross was wonderful, now it's kind of like fend for yourself," said fire victim Katie Dubois.

Katie Dubois lost her home on Burgess Road.

"Hell, I can just say it's been hell," she said of the rebuilding process."

Before the fire, she was approved to build a second home on her property, in addition to the one she already had. But that home burned and she's since put in a mobile home to live in that she plans to keep. But when she went to apply for a building permit to replace her home, she ran into a new obstacle.

"I cannot get the permit. They said that it's been now zoned for one home, on 40 acres," she said.

Dubois isn't alone, others expressed frustration about how long it's taking to rebuild in Black Forest at the County's Long Range Recovery meeting Wednesday night.

"In the Black Forest there's a lot more challenges that we didn't have in Waldo Canyon," explained Lovell.

Those challenges including bigger properties, more rural terrain, burned trees, and most of all lack of insurance.

"People being under-insured in the forest and it just takes a lot longer," said Lovell.

For most people, the permitting process can be quick, taking about a week or two. The problem is the planning that comes before the permitting.

"What will the insurance company pay for, what can I afford to build?" Lovell said as an example.

For Lovell, it may be new zoning rules holding her up. Lovell said they'll look into her case to find out.

Lovell added that there may never be a full rebuild of the Black Forest community, because some properties were combined and other homeowners are choosing to not come back at all.

For assistance with insurance and recovery, go to the County's website: http://www.elpasoco.com/pages/SafetyandAssistance.aspx

For assistance with permits, go to the PPRBD website: http://www.pprbd.org/

 

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