Lyons residents attend a meeting at Civic Center Complex in Longmont, Colorado, 19 September 2013. Photo: Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post

By Josh Israel
19 September 2013

(Think Progress) – As historic floods of “biblical” proportions continue to ravage Colorado, President Obama signed an emergency declaration on Sunday — a move that was encouraged by a bipartisan letter last week from the state’s nine-member Congressional delegation. But the four Republican Congressmen who are now supporting disaster relief for their own state were among those voting earlier this year against the emergency aid funding for Superstorm Sandy victims on the East Coast.

Colorado Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton joined their delegation in asking the president to send emergency funds to help their constituents combat and recover from the more than 14 inches of rain that have flooded Colorado this month.

All four also signed onto a July 10, 2013 letter from the entire delegation to President Obama asking him for a federal major disaster declaration for summer wildfires. Their request noted that such a declaration would “provide urgently needed resources and support to the state, communities, and especially the families who have been uprooted by these wildfires.”

But back in January, a vote in the House of Representatives provided $50 billion in Sandy relief, yet among those voting against the bill were Coffman, Gardner, Lamborn, and Tipton. Their opposition stemmed, in part, because they we unable to steer some of the Sandy aid to their own state. Though he had himself sought disaster aid after damages from Colorado wildfires in June 2012, Lamborn even voted against a smaller $9 billion emergency Sandy relief bill 11 days earlier.

Though scientists have noted that climate is a key cause of these Colorado floods, Coffman, Gardner, Lamborn, and Tipton are all deniers of climate science.

Colorado House Republicans Unanimously Support Flood Relief, Unanimously Opposed Sandy Aid

View from Landmark 'Dam Store' at the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon near Hwy 34, which was severely damaged by flooding water through the canyon. Loveland, Colorado, 17 September 2013. Colorado Republicans have blocked bills to deal with repair or maintenance on infrastructure throughout the state. Photo: Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post

By Nathaniel Downes
14 September 2013

(Addicting Info) – The torrential rains in Colorado this week have resulted in flooding which has killed several people so far. This flooding is made worse by multiple dams which have already failed due to overfill, with dozens more at risk.

Why are they at risk? It turns out that state Republicans have blocked bills to deal with repair or maintenance on infrastructure throughout the state. These efforts, done in the name of fiscal conservatism, do not save money at all, and wind up costing far more than the money saved. Several bridges and dams had already failed before the flooding, which makes the added stress of the current conditions too much to bear. It is reported that over 100 bridges are unsafe while the number of dams nearing failure continues to climb, with over 300 dams listed as at-risk, and two dozen as of extreme risk.

The department tasked with managing the repairs for dams in the state is woefully understaffed and underbudgeted, and the state Republicans refuse to fund any repairs in their push for “small government.” This flies in the face of the reality of aging dam infrastructure across the United States, with 85% to be over a half-century old by 2020.

This is not a new scenario, of failure to maintain key infrastructure leading to disaster. In fact, it is a scenario the people of Johnstown, Pennsylvania know too well. In a wave of privatization in the late 1870′s, the state of Pennsylvania sold several key areas of the south fork river, including the South Fork Dam, to private interests. This eventually landed with a group of private developers, who used the land to found the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club in 1881. It was host to notables such as Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon, and a few dozen other of the wealthiest men in America. It was said that letting private hands manage the dam, which held back the reported 20 million tons of water of Lake Conemaugh, would be more cost-effective than having the state manage it. Instead, the private hands sold off the drain management systems for the value of the iron scrap, making it impossible to regulate the lake water level, and the dam fell into disrepair as ‘turning a profit’ was more important than maintaining the earthen structure.

On May 31, 1889, after several days of hard rain, the South Fork Dam gave way. In the path of the 20 million tons of water, the town of Johnstown.

Read this first hand report by 6-year-old Gertrude Quinn Slattery, a victim of the Johnstown flood, to remind us of the horror which the Republicans seek to engineer on a nationwide scale: [more]

GOP Fought To Cut Dam Maintenance Budget In Colorado – Now The Dams Are Breaking



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