Victims Of 2 Devastating Wildfires Pack Community Meetings
GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Fort Collins victims of the High Park Fire packed the courthouse for a meeting with Larimer County commissioners on Monday night.
They wanted answers about everything from insurance to flood protection to restricting gawkers. Others wanted to know why there has been some confusion in relief efforts for homeowners.
Kris Page lost her home in the fire, and said the county hasn’t made her recovery process very easy so far. The paperwork she filled out was lost, and if it wasn’t for a friend, she wouldn’t have a place to stay. She said she can’t afford $100 a night at a hotel.
“The Red Cross — I don’t know, I can’t prove what happened,” she told CBS4. “We were told register here, and then go back and register with the Red Cross, when everything was at the Johnson Center. It was only by accident when I went to the Meryvn’s that’s now the Adventis center — that’s being so helpful — that I found out that they had no idea that I was there at all. They had no record of my name, no record of anything.”
Many business owners also came to the meeting hoping that county leaders would be more aggressive in promoting tourism in the area now that the fire is no longer a threat.
“We really need the help,” said Sharon Connelly, who owns a lodge in Poudre Canyon. “We need the revenue, and we want people to enjoy our area.”
County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III said the county knows there are a lot of residents with mixed emotions in the county right now.
“There are a lot of people who have lost everything, lost homes. I have friends up here who have lost homes. Some people have got pretty good insurance and pretty good coverage. Others, not so much. And they are looking to see what we can do to help,” Gaiter III said.
Just like the fire, this recovery will be a new challenge the Larimer County community will face together.
To the south, in Colorado Springs, victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire similarly packed a community meeting. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was among the leaders at the meeting sharing information about the ways local, state and federal governments are helping out.
“A great community will rise from these ashes that were so affected by this fire,” said Salazar, who formerly was a senator representing Colorado in Washington.
“As a homeowner, we lost everything, and at least we have people behind us, and the whole community supporting us,” said Steve Timmons, who lost a home.
– A community based organization has been created to help people in Colorado Springs recover from the fire. Colorado Springs Together will be a clearinghouse for information, services and resources. Learn more at ColoradoSpringsTogether.com.
– Larimer County is hosting two more meetings in the near future for High Park Fire victims. They will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 12 and July 19 at the Larimer County Courthouse in Fort Collins at 200 West Oak Street.