We can and must help each other
Fifty weeks out from the Waldo Canyon fire, when my heart felt almost whole again, another giant plume of smoke rose into the sky and signaled another realm of massive losses. I am deeply saddened for the people of Black Forest. The road ahead will be challenging, fraught with heartache, grief, confusion, fear, anxiety, anger, exhaustion, but most of all, hope, faith and love. The people, organizations and government of the Pikes Peak region and beyond will support them with kindness, generosity and assistance on a level beyond imagining. It's a messy business, rebuilding a life and a community, but it can be done. We can, must and will help each other.
However members of the community can, please give. Our agencies and our responders have been tapped hard this year, and now we need more from them. Be as generous as you can with money, food, clothing, toys, personal products, and more - or your time and talents.
Most of all, lend your ears and lend your arms - for the days, weeks, months and year or even years ahead. Be generous with patience, understanding and acceptance; know that everyone processes through the experience differently and there is no timetable on personal recovery.
Measure your words in kindness. Resist judgment. No one going through such a loss needs the added burden of measuring up to others' expectations. It's not helpful to hear what fun you get to have buying all new clothes, furniture, and household items - or that "things don't mean anything." All those "things" that stitched together that warm and precious feeling of home and history meant the world to someone. Honor that with ongoing patience and compassion.
And to my fellow Waldo survivors I say: let's be a giant, enveloping hug for our neighbors. Let's give back by making ourselves available to share our own experiences, lessons and practical knowledge to those starting out on the road we began traveling a year ago.
Susan McConnell, Colorado Springs
I was at Care and Share Food Bank this morning. People responding to the call for aid to victims of the fire and responders was so heart warming.
Thank you Colorado Springs and all communities contributing to this effort, you are appreciated.
Marie McCracken, Colorado Springs
Money spent wisely
Our mayor wants a sports stadium downtown, our City Council is allocating $5.9 million to spruce up our parks. I have a better idea - let's spend the money on firefighting aircraft. The past two years surely should have awakened our residents and politicians for the need for more assets to combat wildfires. It takes too long to get state/federal help when fires threaten our community.
Money spent wisely will ensure a better quality of life and promote business and tourism in our state.
Martin Sobieraj, Colorado Springs
Did we not learn anything?
Again our county has been the victim of a terrible fire. As happened last year. There was a delay of several hours before the slurry drop C-130s of the Air Force were put into duty.
Did we not learn anything from the big fire last year? Why does it take so long for Mr. Bennett, Mr. Udall, and Mr. Lamborn to get legislation passed that would put the Air Force slurry drop planes into the air within 30 minutes of spotting smoke?
Get the higher-ups off the golf courses, out of the bars, put down their drinks and call out the Air Force slurry drop planes! If we fight battles and wars like we fight fires it is no wonder we are a in a mess!
An El Paso County voter who wants to see some immediate action when fighting fires,
Donald G. Worley, Colorado Springs
Meanwhile, people's homes burned
Where were the air tankers for the Black Forest fire?
I have heard reporters and government officials saying how well and fast everything is going between agencies. They said that the air tankers from Peterson AFB were going to be in the air over the fire at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
At 12:30 p.m., they were having a good old time with the media on the ramp with all the planes. Meanwhile, people's homes and belongings were burning up.
The fire started at 2 p.m. That is plenty of time to get a lot of assets on the fire before it got out of control. (If you are ready to do it.)
Weathermen were warning us a day before of the huge fire danger, due to the high temps and wind that was coming. You would think that they would have had assets ready to go to get on top of any problem fire that might arise. But no, they are congratulating themselves on how well all the agencies reacted together in responding to this fire. So they did a good job? Is the new norm of excellence in their response 80 homes burned to the ground?
Larry McManus, Colorado Springs
We are on fire, people!
I am amazed at the absolute stupidity of some of my "fellow" Coloradans who mindlessly and ultimately irresponsibly toss cigarette butts out their car windows with reckless abandon.
We are on fire, people!
What gives you the right to litter our beautiful, colorful state? What is wrong with your ability to connect your careless actions to serious consequences for the rest of us?
Smoking in vehicles should be against the law!
Ramona Crane, Colorado Springs