Winning against wildfires

"Winning against wildfires" Continued...

Issue: "De-coding Morsi," July 28, 2012

"I'm grateful to have the 100-year-old hutch passed down through the family and the 25 years of things that made our house a home," Jodi said, "but I'm devastated about going to live [again] in a place that looks like Mt. St. Helens erupted."

Property damage from the Waldo Canyon fire is expected to exceed $110 million. And while authorities said the Waldo Canyon fire was 98 percent contained by mid-July, 100 percent of Colorado is in a "severe" drought. Over a dozen wildfires have hit Colorado already this season, the worst in a decade. And other Western states are battling blazes brought on by regional drought conditions, including Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

Like hundreds of other Colorado Springs families, the Hammerstroms and McCoys will need ongoing assistance to rebuild their lives. But city residents and organizations have shown themselves up to the task. "This is the end of the era where Colorado Springs will be remembered for Amendment 2," said Holt. "Instead, we will be remembered for the Great Commandment: We loved our neighbors as ourselves."

Let's make a deal

Ministries came together in their fiery ordeal

By Sarah Padbury

Photo by Sarah Padbury

Over lunch in June, Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, and Steve Holt, pastor of Mountain Springs Church, made a deal to do a service project together sometime soon. Two weeks later Summit, a nonprofit that hosts worldview educational conferences for teens, had to evacuate its property ahead of the Waldo Canyon fire with its campus in full swing. Myers asked Holt if his church could house 300 Summit students. Holt readily agreed and told attendees at the Saturday night church service to spread the word.

When evacuation orders came at 1 a.m. Sunday morning, Summit students raced onto five buses and headed to the church. The congregation delivered food, clothing, toiletries, and bedding. By 5:30 a.m., they had enough sleeping bags for all the students, plus towels and washcloths, hundreds of cases of bottled water, paper products-and over $3,000 in cash. Chains like Einstein Bagels donated food, Mattress Firm gave 100 pillows, and the YMCA provided daily showers.

Students remained at the church for a week, and in their spare time cleaned up the extensive church property, including pulling weeds, putting in landscape, scrubbing baseboards, and washing blinds. Summit's property survived the blazes, but classes have been relocated to Colorado Christian University near Denver because of air quality issues. But not before the students posted a thank-you video on YouTube and left behind a collection of $95 in small bills and change.

Related stories

Relief online: Technology has played a key role in assisting families affected by the Colorado wildfire | Sarah Padbury | July 19

Devastating view: Their house was spared, but a Colorado family now must rebuild their life | Sarah Padbury | July 16

Called to action: Church members rally to serve their community during the Colorado wildfires | Sarah Padbury| July 11

Concert haul: Benefit performance aids wildfire victims and firefighters in Colorado | Sarah Padbury | July 6

Burning blazes: Some Colorado Springs residents return to homes, but with Obama visit underway, wildfires continue | Mindy Belz | June 29

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Sarah and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.


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