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Federal disaster declared after June storms, Highlands Ranch tornado

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DENVER (KDVR) — After severe weather damaged parts of Colorado in June, including a tornado in Highlands Ranch, the state and local governments will be eligible for federal assistance.

The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden had approved a disaster declaration for areas southeast of Denver that were hit by tornadoes, flooding and storms from June 8-23. The declaration covers Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties.

Storm damage in Highlands Ranch in the area of Chesapeake Street and Chesapeake Lane on June 22, 2023.
Storm damage in Highlands Ranch in the area of Chesapeake Street and Chesapeake Lane on June 22, 2023. (Photo: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)

The tornado that touched down in Highlands Ranch on June 22 caused damage in neighborhoods, took down more than 16,000 trees, ripped off part of the roof at Northfield Elementary School and hit a car dealership. Crews assessed the damage in the days that followed to see if it reached the level to get this federal assistance.

A few days earlier, on June 21, there were 36 confirmed tornadoes on the Eastern Plains, the most on record for a single day in Colorado.

FEMA will coordinate recovery efforts. Money will be available for governments and some nonprofits to cover emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities.

The White House declaration follows Gov. Jared Polis’ own declarations in June and July.

“I applaud the White House for this action and thank the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local officials who worked closely together to assess damages and determine if and when a county needs support,” Polis said.

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