As evacuated families return this week to go through their homes and assess the damage, several Colorado Springs agencies are working together to help streamline the process.
A large dumpster sitting outside Eagleview Middle School has been filled repeatedly with rotten food from evacuees’ kitchens and assorted garbage. It’s been ongoing for the past three days and will continue as long as there’s enough trash to warrant it.
The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County organized the effort, while Waste Management provided dumpsters and drivers to haul the trash. The Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross distributed food packs and cleanup kits, and the Salvation Army offered additional food and water supplies.
The program’s main purpose was to help families discard spoiling food and prepare for the upcoming week.
On Sunday, Mountain Shadows residents were allowed back into the restricted area for a short period of time to visit their homes, gather belongings and throw away waste. That day, trucks took away eight dumpster loads of spoiled food.
“We had an older couple drive over with some rotten food in their car, and you could smell it before they even opened their trunk,” said Nick Kittle, the city’s Innovation and Sustainability Manager. “We’ve also had people bring over trash for their neighbors. In some cases, we have neighbors helping neighbors and a lot of people working together.”
In some areas, volunteers went door to door to make sure people didn’t have any lingering trash.
“They were asking if there was anything we could help with,” Peregrine resident Jackie Grad said. “I didn’t even know they would be there.”
El Paso County staff also assisted in the Mountain Shadows cleanup process, collecting garbage that residents left at the curb.
“We made a pass through the restricted zone and picked up trash,” Environmental Division Manager Kathy Andrew said. “It was not pretty.”