“We take care of each other.”
Dr. Hank Gardner of Colorado State University shared that thought with me during a conversation last week about the High Park Fire. He’s right, of course. If there is anything positive about a fire that burned 88,000 acres and 260 homes it would be how the community rallied together in crisis.
Thousands of public safety personnel from Sherriff Justin Smith and Fire Chief Tom DeMint to the pilots and crews of the airplanes and helicopters to the firefighters on the front lines with their bulldozers, hoses and shovels have done a commendable job. This includes the hotshot crews from around the country, the Poudre Fire Authority, the volunteer fire departments in Rist Canyon, Glacier View and Poudre Canyon and the other fire departments that sent personnel. Thank youone and all. Dozens of professionals from the county and city have coordinated logistics and communications among local agencies and with the state and federal governments and provided use of local government equipment and facilities. Thank you.
The American Red Cross Northern Colorado Chapter, Salvation Army, Larimer County Humane Society and other nonprofits are providing direct resources and help to evacuees. Thank you.
The news media has done a great job of keeping the community up-to-date about the fire and how the community can help. Thank you one and all.
Colorado State University has provided staging areas, dorm space, assistance with animals, contributions and fire expertise. Thank you to the CSU administration and employees. The school district opened up facilities, as well, so thank you.
The business community has been stellar in its response with cash donations, discounts on lodging and supplies, material donations and lending their expertise. Some financial advisors are giving pro bono assistance to fire victims to get their financial lives untangled, while other businesses are sponsoring benefits to support the victims. Thank you one and all.
Citizens of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado have and are donating to help the fire victims, their animals and the volunteer fire departments. Donations have also come in from around Colorado and the country. Thank you one and all.
The problem with starting a list like this, of course, is that you can’t adequately thank everybody. To the dispatchers, sheriff deputies, police officers, volunteer firefighters, volunteers staffing the disaster relief center, neighbors who helped neighbors, staffers at the chamber of commerce and the convention and visitors bureau who fielded countless inquiries from around the country from the media and travelers, United Way 211, the community foundation and every other person who helped in some way, thank you one and all.
As information becomes available about low interest loans and other assistance available to help businesses destroyed or damaged by the fire, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations and public entities will push that information out to businesses and the public.
In closing, in half-a-dozen words Dr. Gardner captured the positive essence of the High Park Fire – we take care of each other. You did yourselves proud and will again as we begin to transition to the recovery phase.