Colorado paid a steep price for eliminating drought across the northern tier of the state. As the historic flood waters recede, one dairy farmer is left keeping his herd comfortable, while urgently waiting for roads and bridges to be repaired and reopened.
“It’s so critical for transportation,” Tim Bernhardt, co-owner of the Bernhardt Dairy Farm, told CBS Denver.
Bernhardt’s Weld County, Colo., dairy was paralyzed by water as floods spread across the county. Though the dairy is still soaked, it looks much improved from the scene from earlier this week. In the aftermath, Bernhardt’s priority is the same as it was before the flood.
“Our top priority is taking really good care of our cows,” Bernhardt said.
There are around 900 head of cattle on Bernhardt’s dairy, and despite their best efforts, three died from complications from the flooding.
Now, Bernhardt’s worries turn to transportation. Though the Bernhardt’s feed operation just a mile away, the floods forced the dairy to travel 78 miles round-trip to deliver feed to his animals. As roads slowly open, this trek has been reduced to 48 miles.
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Early estimates put property losses caused by the Colorado floods at nearly $2 billion, and many of the state’s farmers and ranchers are bracing for widespread damage to the state’s agricultural industry. The Greeley Tribune reports that Weld County officials are continuing to evaluate road conditions and understand the need to prioritize roads that are import to both commuters and farmers.
“I know people are frustrated,” Jennifer Finch, spokeswoman for Weld County, said. “We’re all frustrated. We’re all dealing with having to find new ways to get places.”
According to The Denver Post, Colorado will drain its road contingency fund of $100 million to begin repairing roads and bridges. The U.S. Department of Transportation also kicked in an addition $35 million toward the work. However, these funds will likely barely begin to fix the damage caused by the floods.
Some communities may be stranded for as long as a year before solid roads to their towns can be rebuilt. See, “Colorado floods: Millions in aid will barely begin to fix roads, dams.”