Fitness

Marshall Fire – Boulder County

As noted, I don’t do a lot of personal posts any more. But having started this as a blog in 2007 there is much of my life chronicled here from the crazy bad wedding to the hilarious to the many cross country moves. For that reason, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the Marshall Fire.

Before sharing our experience, I first need to say we are safe. Our home and our cats are physically all fine.

But in an area of 13,000 homes nearly 1,000 were lost and more were damaged.

Marshall Fire Donations

I’m lucky to have a platform that I hope can help our community in this time. Beyond what I can do in person as opportunities become available I’m offering these options now for those who asked how can you help.

Housing Options

If you know someone who can offer a room or a short term place for someone who is displaced to stay, register through Airbnb’s Open Homes Program.

Insurance will kick in, but they will still need options for short and long term.

Financial Aid

Honestly, this is one of the most useful right now. These organizations know how to assist and can best put the money in to action. We are finding many, many sites collecting clothing and things. But it’s overwhelming to people to even think about what they need, let alone drive around to all these different places.

As businesses in these areas are able to re-open if you can support them please do.

They are obviously losing income from being closed then a drop in people visiting them and of course trying to support their employees through this as well.

Volunteering

As of yet, we don’t know exactly what the needs will be. Things are still covered in snow, many areas are not yet open. There are places coming through to hand out food, water, and deliver donations. That’s all appreciated, but there will be bigger needs in the coming weeks and months.

If you’d like to know about opportunities, sign up at Colorado Responds.

David’s company will be putting things together as well. His boss is a long time member of this community and ready to help. So I will share on social when those things happen.

Marshall Wildfire Experience

Living in Colorado for 6 years, we’ve seen plenty of news about wildfires.

We’ve seen the ash fall in our yard.

We’ve watched the Flatirons disappear for months behind a cloud of brown.

We drove past a grass fire in Boulder, just last week!

But wildfires were all something happening “out there”.

Dec 30th – 11:00AM

I was on a walk with a friend about 30 minutes from home, when we noticed a plume of smoke over in the direction of  my house. I assumed it was another grass fire that would quickly be put out, we’d driven past one just days before in Boulder.

Dec 30th – 12:00PM

We finished our walk because wind gusts of up to 50MPH in that area were pushing us around and I started to drive home.

The close I got the more I realized it was happening very near us. But I still wasn’t concerned. In fact, like many others in the area I drove to an outlook about .5 miles from my house to see it and take a photo.

The wind gusts were now 100MPH and literally blowing people over as we tried to see what was going on.

Start of the Marshall Fire near our home.

Dec 30th – 1:00PM

Received an email evacuation order.

This is one of the things I remain frustrated about.

  • There was no emergency alert to anyone’s phone.
  • There was no direction provided on how to evacuate as there are only 2 main roads in town and one was blocked.
  • If you weren’t signed up for town emails you wouldn’t have gotten ANY notification.
  • They didn’t turn on tornado sirens or something that might have triggered people to look at the news.

It’s truly beyond remarkable that no one died.

Most of us weren’t sure it was serious. In fact, I walked out and talked to multiple neighbors who were all like “ehh not sure we need to go” or “oh didn’t even get an email”.

By 1:30PM I was having a panicked phone call with David to try and get him home because I didn’t want to be separated and didn’t even know where to go.

It still felt like it wasn’t a huge deal and so initially this was my packing list:

  • Cats
  • Laptop
  • Bottle of water and granola bar

Yup, that’s it. Even as I waited for David and started to get more concerned the only thing I finally realized was maybe we couldn’t come home that  night and so I packed us both a change of clothes and toothbrushes.

As things progressed, I didn’t terribly regret my choices. I don’t hold much valuable beyond those things, but realized I should certainly have grabbed important documents, etc. So now we have a list.

Dec 30th – 2:30 PM

David arrived home, we chatted with yet another neighbor and we all decided to head out “just in case”.

As we attempted to leave, it turns out everyone else had waited too and we ended up needing over an hour to get more than a couple blocks from our home.

Wildfire Evacuation

Dec 30th – 4:00 PM

We had so many incredible friends offering us places to go, but David was still convinced we’d head home and he just wanted to stay close by. So we tried to find a place to park that gave us a break from the wind and we listened to the non-stop radio coverage, scrolled Twitter and Facebook for information.

Also, our amazing friends all have cats or are allergic to cats. Who knew that would be the problem.

Dec 30th – 5:00 PM

The news hits home that we may in fact lose our house. Neighbors houses were gone, business were gone and we live next to a massive open space – read a massive potential fire if just one ember blew there.

Honestly, I couldn’t stop crying and we were both frozen with indecision.

A dear friend, messaged me that she had booked us a pet friendly hotel and it was a saving grace. It still took us an hour to actually start driving and we didn’t get in to the room until about 7:30. But without it, i don’t know we may have sat dumbfounded in the car.

Boulder County wildfire
Photo from firefighter Patrick Kramer. Our gratitude to all the crews who showed up is immeasurable.

Dec 30th 8:00PM – Dec 31st 9:00 AM

Obsessively watching news, scrolling Twitter, checking every single possible Facebook group.

Trying to understand where the fire was and watching as the first snow of the season finally started to fall.

We then got a photo from a friend who had literally hiked in to the area to check on houses for many that he knew and ours was still standing.

Dec 31st 10:30 AM

Now there was no electricity, gas or clean water in the neighborhood, which lead to concerns about frozen pipes as the temps were quickly dropping to single digits.

We wanted to see our house, just to truly feel it was there.

We wanted to turn off the water and prevent another issue.

So we found a spot to park where thousands of onlookers where trying to see the area and hiked a mile through trails behind our house to get in. It was eerie and unsettling.

Every house had a pink “evacuated” string attached to mailboxes or trees or doors.

The air smelled like smoke and it was just so silent.Evacuated Tag

Jan 1st 9:30 AM

We received a notification that our neighborhood was allowed back in and decided once again just to head back and get a feel for the situation.

Pulling in we found our neighbor shoveling our driveway of 8 inches of snow.

They wanted to ensure if gas came by they knew people were home so we could get ours turned back on…yup I cried again.

Jan 1st 4:00 PM

The hotel allowed us to stay until 4, which we took advantage of to get a hot shower and keep the cats warm for the day.

We headed back and set up camp in our master bedroom. The house was around 35 degrees and so it was time to find out just what space heaters could do… first we found out that 5 small ones plugged in to the bedroom was a circuit issue.

Then Xcel came through with some space heaters at the community center, so David set out to pick those up. By 9Pm we were up to 55 degrees or so in the bedroom and everyone was happy to be home.

  • used our electric kettle to boil water
  • kept water shut off since we were worried about pipes

Jan 1st 9:00 PM

Exhausted I was ready to pass out when we started getting texts from neighbors that we might get gas turned on that night. But you had to be home to let them in…thus you needed to be awake because we couldn’t hear the doorbell with the heaters running.

By 11PM we were pretty sure they were done, but just couldn’t tell.

Finally got a notice that a few crews worked till midnight, but they would start again at 6Am.

So kept the phone on all night as it buzzed away with texts from friends.

Jan 2nd 8:30 AM

Looked down the street to see gas crews pulling up and started dancing around the very cold living room.

Each crew had to go house to house first to shut off gas the day before and then in the coming days to turn it on, go in to the homes and relight pilot lights etc. I appreciated this process and the last thing anyone wanted was a second fire form someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

At that point we were able to start heating the house and turn our water back on.

The boil order will remain in place for awhile and there is no real timeline for Wifi, but the basics are now able to be covered which means many of us can now find other ways to help in the community.

Again, I mention WiFi because we almost no cell coverage in our area. So it’s how I use the phone to text, call, etc. Also honestly working is what is keeping me from falling apart.

We are beyond lucky.

We are relieved.

Boulder County Wildfire Damage

But we are heartbroken by what we see around us and the long road ahead for so many.

Which again is why I hope you will share the donation options and continue to think of the community in the long months that follow.

Truly if you see the path of the fire, it’s as though it came to an intersection a 1/2 mile from us and the wind blew to the North instead of the South.

The high winds, just fueled the Marshall Fire to such an extent that firefighters weren’t able to truly do much to stop it for the first 8 or so hours. Many of them were hit hard by the destruction as well, it’s simply unlike anything that Colorado has seen.

Incredible Return

What’s a little mind blowing about the return process is actually the speed at which it’s been able to happen.

We thought it would be a week before we were allowed in, a week before any potential heat… the city while not perfect, as worked quickly with every agency to try and make things happen.

The national guard and local agencies were here to try and allow a re-entry of any sort.

The Xcel electric and gas teams deployed immediately.

How to help someone during a disaster?

One of the things I realized was we were incredibly lucky to have so many people who cared.

The second thing I realized was when asked “how can I help?” we were too in shock of the unknown to have an answer.

  • A friend booked us a hotel, because we just couldn’t make decisions. That ensured we had a place to stay.
  • That same friend (love you Katrina) sent dinner or we would not have eaten. It wasn’t on our minds.
  • Friends have offered specific things like a place to work, a gift card to eat, options to bring bottled water or bring space heaters and that was really helpful.

If you’re able to immediately take an action that saves them a decision.

If you’re able to offer something specific, like “do you need cat foot?” or “can I bring the kids toys?” or “I AM sending you food.” That’s better.

ALL of the offers are welcomed, but overwhelming at the moment of have I lost everything. I don’t know where to start and for those who did lose it all, there’s too much to think about to even get organized.

Thank you.

Thank you for everything in the last few days. I tried hard to respond to everyone, but probably didn’t. Your love and prayers and offers for so many things were deeply and truly appreciated.

If you know someone in need from the Marshall Fire and I can help them get some gear or something, PLEASE let me know.

Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Source
Marshall Fire – Boulder County is written by amanda for www.runtothefinish.com

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