Waldo Canyon Fire: Community

Friday, 4 pm.

The fire is about 45% contained, and the evacuee count is down to 3,000. One couple was killed, but my understanding is that they chose not to heed the evacuation notice. The freedom to make your own decisions unfortunately comes with the ability to make poor decisions. However, two dead and two injured out of 32,500 evacuees and 1,500 firefighters speaks to how well the people in charge were able to protect the people under their care.

Like many people, I went to church this morning. In fact, I’ve never seen that many people in my church. Our congregation, I suspect like most across Colorado Springs, had a service focused on the fire and how to deal with it now and moving forward. Our congregation was almost unscathed, I heard that only two houses owned by members were burned. I also heard that everyone who had to evacuate had somewhere to go. However, a fund was started by our district office to help people in the Springs and elsewhere in the Mountain District that are affected by the fires here and throughout the west. It was a time to share, to see our friends and neighbors. It was a time to connect.

Friday, 4:10 pm.

The outpouring of support for each other in our city is amazing. The collection plate that went around for the fund was not only full of bills, but full of significantly sized bills. I cannot speak for other congregations, but I suspect the same thing happened in the other places of worship as well. What I can say is that with 32,500 evacuees, I kept hearing from the shelters that they had lots more openings and some had to ask people to stop dropping off supplies because they had more than they could handle. Some evacuees I am sure ended up in hotels, but that still left a huge number unaccounted for. Those were the people that moved in with family and friends who opened their homes. In an emergency, you usually hear about the opposite problem, too many people and not enough supplies in the shelters. Perhaps if the fire had taken more of the city, that might have ended up being the case, but we certainly had a head start in stocking what would be needed.

One of the things mentioned in this morning’s sermon was to not mistake “being connected” for actual connection. I did have friends and family check in with phone calls and e-mails. As they are back east, that is the best way for them to check on me, and it was very appreciated that they did. However, there is something to be said for having physical people to touch and hug to know they are ok. A Facebook update that “everything’s ok” is one thing. It’s quite another to be able to look into a person’s eyes to see for yourself whether everything is, in fact, ok. I’ve talked about community before and I will talk about it again, I’m sure, because it is something that isn’t focused on. It is fantastic that people can have friends on the other side of the world, but too often they appear to me made at the expense of being friends with people on the other side of your street. A friend in Australia can give me advice and well wishes, but it’s the friend on the fire-free side of town that I would need to turn to if I were evacuated. It’s the friend who lost a house in this city that I could take in, not the one that lost a house to the flooding in Great Britain.

The Montana/Nebraska team warming up.

On a lighter note, the working cowboy rodeo was still on despite the evacuated animals taking up part of the event center. They encouraged the evacuees to come out for a night of entertainment by at the very least providing them with free food and drinks, and I believe letting them in the rodeo for free. It was, as always, a good show. Also, as I’ve come to expect, there was quite a collection of good-looking . . . critters.

I was looking at the horses . . .

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mom on July 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I like the pictures. We have not had much coverage back east.

    Reply

    • So I heard. I guess it isn’t terribly interesting if you aren’t in the mountains- or don’t know someone out here. I just wish the grayscale stuck better when I shrank them, I have some pretty awesome ones that I couldn’t use since they were basically shades of gray.

      Reply

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