By Jamie Leary

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s been more than four months since the East Troublesome Fire blew through 193,812 acres in Grand County, destroying hundreds of homes. On Wednesday, families impacted still face hurdles.

“We’ve supported over 300 families with rent and utility assistance and actually, with the utility paired with that, it’s about 600 households, and we’ve spent over $800,000 in those support services,” said Helen Sedlar, the executive director of the Mountain Family Center.

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(credit: CBS)

Since the fire, the Mountain Family Center has served as a one-stop shop for those impacted, no matter whether they lost their home.

On Saturday, CBS4 took a tour of the nonprofit, which was getting a fresh delivery for its food pantry.

“This will be gone in two days,” said Megan Ledin, Executive Director of the Grand Foundation.

Immediately following the fire, the Grand Foundation looked to the MFC for help.

“We started working with organizations like Mountain Family Center for that one stop shop for people for basic needs, for food, clothing, and shelter. So, we provided grant dollars to them out of the wildfire fund so they could give directly to individuals that needed assistance in those three areas.”

The foundation set up the Wildfire Fund right away, and so far, it’s raised $3.7 million.

While some community members can afford to rebuild, some were uninsured renters or homeowners. Others are finding out they’re insurance won’t cover all of the loss.

“One of the things we’re discovering for those that did have insurance is how severely underinsured these people are. It’s the magnitude what it cost 10 years ago to build a home and what it cost to build a home today,” said Ledin.

A stone chimney and some rubble is all that’s left of a home in the Sun Valley subdivision near Grand Lake, Colorado on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. The East Troublesome Fire was substantially slowed down last week after quickly becoming on of the largest wildfires in Colorado history overnight. (credit: Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

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Community members have stepped up left and right to help where they can. It’s thanks to Mountain Parks Electric, those with a home to return to, can get a break on the rent and utilities.

Others have donated clothing. Businesses like the Colorado Rockies, Smart Wool and Patagonia, stepped up unprompted.

“We took in 59 boxes of Patagonia- brand new jackets, thermals, pants – all of this clothing that was donated,” said Ledin, as she showed CBS4 around one of the donation rooms at the MFC.

Outside of the MFC, funding will go toward the longer-term needs which are perhaps the most challenging.

(credit: CBS)

“With spring coming and the snow melting, people are realizing once again what they’ve lost, and they need help with debris removal.”

Ledin said the county will cover some of the removal, but the wildfire fund will cover the cost of labor and lodging, and they’re calling on anyone with the skills to help.

Once the debris is clear, even for those who can afford to rebuild, will likely face a long road.

“There’s always going to be this constant need for years to come. Our builders right now, are on a two-to-four year wait list for rebuilding, so those who have already arranged to have their houses rebuilt, there’s still a back log of so many homes.”

Funds will also cover long term ecological needs.

“We’re talking about future flood mitigation, fire mitigation, reforestation, water quality, all of those things are imperative, not to mention the number of down trees and timber we still have. Still being in a drought situation in grand county, it is imperative that we look to how we can prevent future forest fires,” said Ledin.

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If you would like to help, you can donate to the Wildfire Fund or reach out to the Grand Foundation. It’s asking for volunteers with any trade skills that could help in the long-term recovery efforts.

Jamie Leary