National Disaster Resiliency Competition

In Fall 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, held the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), to provide significant resources and support to communities, to increase their resiliency. The competitive competition awarded nearly $1 billion in HUD Disaster Recovery funds to eligible communities. The Town of Lyons, in conjunction with other Colorado communities, worked closely with the State to create an application of proposed resiliency projects for the competition. Two projects proposed by the Town were an affordable housing project in the Eastern Corridor, and a Swiftwater Rescue Facility.

On January 21, 2016, despite months of tireless effort, Governor Hickenlooper was informed that Colorado was not selected as a final recipient of the competition.    

Affordable Housing
In July 2015, the State of Colorado asked the Town of Lyons to participate in the competition. An internally-focused countywide charette was held to determine which recovery projects would bring the most resiliency and value to local communities. Affordable housing in Lyons was identified as one of those projects. The Town will be applying for funds to support the development and construction of permanently affordable housing, as well as a multi-use community center to be located in the Commercial Eastern Corridor. The Lyons housing development is one of 13 resiliency projects throughout multiple counties collectively proposed by the State of Colorado. The competition is a high-profile funding opportunity, where the State is competing against 39 other states and municipalities throughout the country. 

In addition to the NDRC application, the Rockefeller Foundation produced a documentary titled “The Road to Resiliency.”  The film focuses on several of the towns and cities who have been chosen as finalists for the competition; the Town of Lyons was asked to participate. On September 29 and 30, 2015, the filmmakers from the Rockefeller Foundation were in Lyons to film and speak with local residents and town staff. The discussion centered around the aftermath of the 2013 flood event, as well as recovery and resiliency efforts being made throughout the community. 

On January 20, 2016, the film was release to the public. 

Swiftwater Rescue Facility
The Swiftwater Rescue Training Channel provides a safe, controlled environment in which swiftwater rescue training can be conducted.  The facility consists of a constructed whitewater channel that delivers approximately 350 cubic feet per second of flow through grade 2-3 whitewater.  The water flow is controlled by a pump station such that the flows can be turned on, and off, allowing the training group to set differing scenarios.  The most common of these is to place a cleaned vehicle (one which has had all the fluids removed) into the channel to practice rescue from a vehicle in active flow (80% of all swift water rescues are this scenario).  Training first responders can also practice other scenarios such as crossing active flow, floating and self rescue, throwbag rescues and many others.  The channel provides the opportunity to train in ideal conditions throughout the year and is safe enough to allow day and night training.

The Swiftwater Rescue Training Channel also allows for kayaking, rafting, and tubing.  The channel can be used for the Lyons Kids Kayak Club, Team Colorado, and by many local kayak groups who will pay to rent the facility for kayaking sessions.  The projected economic impact of these visits is expected to be in the $2-3 million per year range and will be realized in local shops, restaurants, and campgrounds.  The rescue channel will allow for whitewater kayaking through a much-extended season that will far exceed the average 2 month season of most front-range rivers.

The impacts from the SRTC will far exceed these numbers however.  The SRTC will be the first of its kind in the US and only the second in the world (there will be similar functionality at the OKC Whitewater Park, once completed).  The SRTC is expected to train fire crews from throughout the American West.  This will have a significant impact in its own right.  As an example, by using the value of a saved life quoted by FEMA at $5.8 million and assume that this facility, through training of first responders throughout the west, saves, on average, 5 lives per year, then we can assume that the impact of this rescue facility is equal to $29 million per year in indirect impacts.  The direct impacts of having these swift water rescue staff in town are also significant.