The Superior Board of Trustees on Monday discussed lessons learned from the Marshall Fire and the need for better intergovernmental and community communications during a disaster.

Allison James, disaster preparedness and recovery manager, and Taylor Smith, disaster recovery specialist, presented an update to the board regarding finished work, ongoing work, and plans and future opportunities that are being pursued.

Smith said that approximately 25% of all impacted residential and commercial properties have received rebuilding permits, with an additional 65 permits in progress. She also said that all but three businesses have reopened since the fire, with eight new businesses that have opened or plan to open as well.

The Marshall Fire Recovery Milestone document and After Action Report provided a timeline of operational responses, highlighting what was done well and what could be improved. The report showed that during an evacuation, there needs to be a traffic flow plan to avoid congestion. The action report also said that there needs to be better inter-governmental communications during a disaster, and that meetings will need to be held to establish agreements and plans.

Problems and solutions with public communication through the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center were also reported. The After Action Report stated that while the center is setting up during a disaster, there needs to be a way to communicate with residents either through a website or social media.

The report stated that one problem was that maps of damaged structures and maps showing which homes had no utilities were hard to find or were not updated frequently. This caused problems with homeowners submitting insurance claims and residents staying in shelters longer than necessary because they did not know if their homes had utilities or not.

Mayor Mark Lacis said that many residents are concerned about fire preparedness, and that Boulder County commissioners should be aware and active in taking care of the open space west of Superior.

“We need to specifically address the fire management issues with the county,” Lacis said.

The board also discussed the Original Town alley decontamination and improvement project. Brannon Richards, public works and utilities director, presented the project update. The project will remove ash and fire debris from alleys and include a new asphalt surface, both of which are funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As part of the improvement project, Fifth Avenue will be extended from Coal Creek Drive to Charles Street. The extension is preferred by emergency services. If not constructed, a turnaround will be required at all streets and alleys along the proposed Fifth Avenue extension. Richards said that the completion deadline for the project, which is funded by Superior, is June 30, 2023.

Lacis said it had not been clear to the board or to residents that the decontamination project included the Fifth Avenue extension. Trustee Jason Serbu said that there needs to be more communication with future construction projects. Serbu said that many streets in the area are dead-ends. Trustee Neal Shah noted that many residents in the area are not in favor of expanding Fifth Avenue. However, the board already approved the project in November of 2022.

Richards said that the contractor with the project has been very communicative and would be willing to work with the town on project phasing and discuss possible Fifth Avenue extension or turnarounds.

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Andrea Grajeda
2023-01-24 04:52:36
Boulder Daily Camera
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