Last week’s bomb cyclone ripped the roof off Crawford House, causing more than $200,000 damage to the downtown Colorado Springs refuge for veterans facing homelessness and substance abuse.
The Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition has moved 13 veterans into a hotel while it launches a desperate fundraising effort to rebuild.
The charity is assessing what insurance will pay, program director Jerome Ford said, but it clearly won’t cover the damage and the cost to put up veterans elsewhere.
“Right now, the building is shut down,” he said.
Last week’s blizzard packed winds of up to 96 mph at the Colorado Springs Airport, toppling trees, snapping power lines and damaging buildings across El Paso County.
Downtown Colorado Springs didn’t see much snow from the March 13 storm, but it got plenty of wind, which felled several trees and damaged some roofs.
The Crawford House roof tore loose in seconds, like the peel of a ripe orange.
“The wind came down the street and snatched the roof off,” Ford said.
The storm also ripped a gas pipe and tore off electric lines to the building.
Crawford House has helped more than 2,200 veterans since it opened in 2001, offering housing, counseling, therapy for substance abuse and job training. The program boasts a success rate topping 80 percent.
The facility is named for Master Sgt. Bill Crawford, a local hero who earned the Medal of Honor in 1942 while braving enemy fire to take out machine gun nests with hand grenades.
Ford said the program for veterans will continue, but the temporary housing makes the work difficult.
The charity that runs Crawford House has faced tepid fundraising in recent years. Tax forms for 2017, the most recent available, show a $10,354 shortfall.
But the storm damage is its biggest crisis in recent years.
“All of this is taking a toll on our organization both mentally and financially,” the charity said in a fundraising plea. “We are turning to the community for assistance.”
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx