Two of the streets that re-opened recently here in Colorado Springs are Vindicator and Centennial Boulevard. Centennial was the defense marker for the wildfire that has been going on in Colorado Springs, and Vindicator leads directly into it. I took a drive down both roads yesterday to take a look and found myself staring at a number of different things.
One of the things I noticed were a number of hand-created signs made by people who were thanking the Firefighters and Police Officers who have been working so hard to save homes and protect them from looters. In the area we live in there are many Seniors, People with Disabilities, and Veterans, as well as children and others. The signs were very clearly made from home art items, by children, and by people who are just very grateful to have their homes.
Another thing I noticed were several Red Cross Disaster Relief Vans. The vans were large and they were driving around providing food and other relief services to people in the community. The Red Cross has been ever-present in the greater Colorado Springs area since the start of the Waldo Canyon Fire, from the south end of town to the north. My husband and I ate a couple of meals at the Red Cross/YMCA/Salvation Army post in the south end of town when we evacuated from the fire.
As I drove towards the Walgreens where Vindicator and Centennial meet, I couldn't help but notice how very close the fire came. A large burn scar is located directly behind the store. Another hundred feet and the store would have burned to the ground; the firefighters saved the area.
I turned down Centennial Boulevard, taking in the sight of the apartment complexes, homes, churches, and businesses along the street. The thoughts of thanks for the efforts of so many different emergency personnel flooded my mind as I did. In the grass lot right next to a church along Centennial is another large burn scar; it is the church my friend with quadriplegia and his wife attend.
Three blocks away, I turned into the Pinon Glen area; the sight before me gave me enough relief it brought tears to my eyes. My friend's house is perfectly intact, and the area has been saved from the fire. Despite the blackened trees and burnt ground only blocks away from the home he and his wife live in, there isn't a single burn mark on their home. The Firefighters saved it; the police kept it safe from looters while they were away.
After taking a moment to compose myself, I went inside to visit my friend. He was inside looking a bit haggard; his electrolytes were off because of his experiences during the time he had to evacuate his home. He was tilted back in his power chair, relaxing. He still had his friendly, caring smile though - something that was very good to see. Some good fluids, some rest, and some time and he will be fine. His wife is a nurse and she was already back at work helping others.
He went over to his computer and showed me a short video clip he took of the smoke pouring into the area behind his house just before they evacuated. It was so reminiscent of the scene behind our own home it was frightening. I asked him where he had gone to during the time he evacuated and he said he had spent some time in a facility. My thought was, 'no wonder his electrolytes are off,' but there were most likely others at the facility who needed more attention than he did during a crisis.
On the drive home, I took a little more time to look up at the hills and mountains surrounding Colorado Springs. There are vast areas that are burned black and the trees are an immense loss. It will be decades before the hills and mountains look like they used to. There is a very real danger now from flash floods, and the Waldo Canyon Fire at the time of this writing remains at 70% containment. The City of Colorado Springs is no longer threatened, according to the Firefighters and other emergency personnel.
The monsoon season has begun here, meaning we have a series of thunderstorms building and showing up from the south. The storms will continue for many days, with lightning, thunder, and rain that may be heavy at times. For the people who live here, this can mean flash floods that have the potential to present further threats to an already weary community. People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Veterans are already dealing with respiratory issues from all of the smoke; they are already dealing with the trauma of the fire. Many people here have lost their homes due to the Waldo Canyon Fire, one that is now being described as the most destructive fire in Colorado history.
Firefighter boots have begun to show up in grocery and other stores, asking people to donate to the fire department. Support of the emergency personnel and organizations that are there for you during a crisis is an ongoing effort, it is not something that you do only during a crisis. My husband and I have always shopped at Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Arc Thrift Stores, for example. We have a son-in-law who is a Firefighter and we have attended benefit breakfasts and so forth. For People with Disabilities, Seniors, Veterans, and children - emergency services and the organizations that support us mean everything. Won't you consider supporting them today
The Red Cross
"The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors across the street, across the country, and across the world in emergencies. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new the more than half a million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross."
The Salvation Army
"Family service programs help families and needy individuals with emergency food, housing, utility assistance and other temporal needs. Salvation Army programs vary with local needs."
"Goodwill inspires hope and self-confidence, helping people from all backgrounds and walks of life feel successful, valuable and dignified. We help people earn a living, improve their lives, and strengthen their families and their communities."
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