The city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County have added fire recovery managers to their employee ranks to grapple with Waldo Canyon fire aftermath.
The city’s Director of the Office of Emergency Management, Bret Waters, has also assumed the title of fire recovery manager. Gordon Brenner started work at the city on Monday as Waters’ fire recovery coordinator, said Cindy Aubrey, the city’s chief communications officer.
In February, El Paso County hired Matt Andrews as its fire recovery manager, said Dave Rose, the county’s public information officer
The positions are grant-funded, and have an emphasis on communications and coordination of recovery efforts, according to Aubrey and Rose.
Brenner has a “Department of Defense background,” and has experience with management and geospatial technology, Aubrey said in an email to The Gazette. He is a former volunteer with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, a wildfire recovery and flood mitigation group. Brenner worked on flood mitigation efforts in the Waldo Canyon burn scar. Grant money covers one year of employment for Brenner, said Aubrey. She did not know off-hand the name of the grant or how much money it supplies to Brenner’s position.
“Gordon will be heavily involved in grant management, flood studies, community education, stakeholder coordination and many other important recovery roles,” Aubrey wrote.
Matt Andrews started working for the county in February, with an annual salary of $50,000, Rose said. The position is paid for by the Colorado Fire Relief Fund, said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark. Rose described Andrews as “former military” with experience in emergency management and public affairs. Andrews also worked on rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq, Rose said in an email. Other wildfire-affected counties in Colorado — Boulder and Larimer counties, to name two — have hired fire recovery managers to help with the tangle of information, grant applications and informational meetings that go with the recovery process.
“We knew that this was not going to be a short-term effort and we just needed somebody to help with organizing meetings and data, and keeping everything on track,” said Clark.
As with the city’s recovery coordinator position, Andrews’ position could expire in a year, when grant money runs out.
“I suspect that we are going to need it longer than a year, but it certainly gets us moving along,” Clark said.
For the county, Andrews is doing a similar mix of things — he is tasked with coordinating public meetings, working with other agencies on fire and flood mitigation, and putting together recovery and emergency planning efforts.
Along with managing the county’s flow of social media and information about fire and flood danger, Andrews will meet with other wildfire affected counties to trade recovery strategy and suggestions, Clark said.
His other duties include:
• Assist in reviewing and creating recovery policies.
• Assist in creating and updating damage assessment plans, and updating re-entry plans.
• Assist with applications and financial tracking and accountability of grant funding and recovery efforts.
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261
Read more about wildfire recovery at blogs.gazette.com/firenews