Tag Archives: High Park Fire

Changing The Landscape

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Taking full advantage of a break in the weather, over 30 red-shirted team members on last weekend’s Sky Corral missions trip accomplished all that they set out to do, changed the landscape in the Stove Prairie area of Larimer County, and acquired a new nickname in the process.

Serve 6.8 has been working with victims of the High Park Fire since last summer to aid in their recovery. This latest (and largest) work effort centered around Sky Corral Ranch. The Ranch operates as a Christian family retreat center with the goal of introducing families and ministries to the Creator through activities and discipleship while in the midst of His creation. Stove Prairie Community Church operates out of Sky Corral with approximately 40 people from the surrounding area attending each week. By working with these local ministries, the team was able to strengthen existing relationships in the community.

While 2012 fires spared the structures at the ranch, they consumed about 10% of the land, leaving ten acres damaged enough to be a problem for both safety and erosion. So, the first order of business for the Serve 6.8 Fire Recovery Team was to cut down trees and use them to stabilize the hillsides to prevent erosion and keep ash from running into the waterways.

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In addition to cutting down trees, the team planted 650 new trees and shrubs. The ground might have been a tad muddy from a snow storm earlier in the week, but that made it easier to dig the necessary holes. As if the new junipers, conifers, and ponderosa pines weren’t enough new greenery on the slopes, the team scattered 50 pounds of grass seed … in time for God to provide a blanket of moisture-laden snow on top.

Beyond the property lines of the Sky Corral Ranch, the team was also able to assist a local homeowner who had lost most of her outbuildings and some of her livestock fencing in the fires. A few team members spent the entire trip building a fence while another group built a new loafing shed for Amy’s two horses and donkey. By Sunday morning, Amy reported that HeeHaw, the donkey, had already moved into the shed and was guarding it. She thanked the team and Serve 6.8 for their help and said this really helped her outlook, since it felt like at times they were forgotten by the folks on the front range.

Watch this video to see the team in action!

Going forward, work crews will continue to return to the area to cut down and plant trees. If you are interested in being a part of changing the landscape and bringing hope to this community, contact Ron Hedrick at rhedrick@serve68.org. (To learn more about Sky Corral Ranch, visit http://www.skycorral.net.)

And that nickname the team acquired? The camp director’s father called them an army of red ants swarming the hillsides.

Team Heading to Sky Corral Ranch

6.8 Fire Recovery Team

A team of over 30 SERVE 6.8 volunteers will be serving locally on a four-day short-term missions trip starting this Thursday. They will be staying and working at Sky Corral Ranch in the Stove Prairie area that was significantly affected by last year’s High Park Fire. Sky Corral Ranch operates as a Christian retreat center and is home to Stove Prairie Community Church. Team members will be felling trees, using them to stabilize hillsides to prevent eroson, and planting hundreds of trees and shrubs. In addition, they will be helping another woman build a shed and put up fencing. Most importantly, they will be letting the residents of this community know that we have not forgotten about them.

Sky Corral 1While the team is gone, please pray for their safety as they work on steep hillsides, team unity, organization and logistics, open doors to bless  a community still recovering from devastation, and good weather for working outdoors.

Planting Hope After The Fire

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The High Park fire has been out for months … but three to five years worth of work remains. (And that’s assuming the drought eases and no more fires ignite.)

Teams of SERVE 6.8 volunteers have received chain-saw safety training and journeyed once a month into the foothills to help individuals with erosion control on burned slopes. They arrive to find a charred mess and leave behind a cleared, tidy, straw-strewn area … and thankful homeowners. As spring nears, teams will focus more on re-forestation especially after receiving tree-planting training on March 9th.

On April 11 to 14, 2013, a team will be going on a three-night short-term missions trip into the foothills to serve the members of Stove Prairie Community Church impacted by the High Park Fire and help Sky Corral Lodge continue to be a creation-centered Christian camp drawing families and ministries closer to Christ. The trip will focus on erosion control and tree planting with some light construction possible and is open to anyone who can use a shovel and navigate steep hillsides. Applications and deposits are due March 10, 2013.

If you love the outdoors and don’t mind getting dirty, contact Newlen Sutton at bucbsutton@msn.com for more information about the trip or joining a work team.

After The Fire

In the days after the High Park fire ignited, SERVE 6.8 volunteers responded with water, prayer, and a listening ear. (See Responding to the High Park Fire.) In the weeks that followed, they continued to meet the tangible needs of those affected by the fire with no strings attached.

In the three weeks it took to get the fire completely contained, approximately 250 homes were lost. Of those displaced, some were owners and others renters. Many without insurance. Some lost more than their homes and belongings. The family of a young autistic boy had to relocate far from the small school where he had friends and individual instruction. One household, with four generations under their roof, was scattered because their local support system couldn’t care for all of them. Others lost businesses and the ability to perform their work when workshops, materials, tools, and equipment were consumed in the flames. Families were relocated to rental homes in Fort Collins, Loveland, Denver, and out of state while a few others are still in hotels.

After FEMA denied assistance to Colorado wildfire victims (since a high percentage of the expensive homes destroyed in the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs were insured), it was up to local groups, including Timberline Church and SERVE 6.8, to step in and meet the needs of those affected by the High Park fire.

Due to the large trailers and hundreds of volunteers wearing orange T-shirts, the most visible element of help came through a partnership with Samaritan’s Purse. Over four and a half weeks, teams of volunteers were deployed to come alongside homeowners to sift through the ashes and find both memories and closure. Among the items salvaged were a wedding ring and numerous pieces of other jewelry, a china tea set, lots of Christmas tree ornaments, and the  cremated remains of one family’s grandmother still resting on the hearth.  In all, over a thousand volunteer days were spent helping people recover lost memories.

Less visible yet equally impactful was SERVE 6.8’s role in case management. Of those who lost their homes, approximately 85 registered with the Red Cross to receive help with food, shelter, and clothing. Of those 85 registered, 45 families filled out an intake form at Timberline Church’s/SERVE 6.8’s table at the evacuation center and the church in subsequent weeks. After an initial interview where specific needs were identified, a small approval committee was formed and met regularly to review the level of support we could offer.

In all, over $20,000 in gift cards to King Soopers, Safeway, Wal-Mart, and Lowe’s were given to help subsidize family situations without insurance. The fund to meet these needs came from a special offering at Timberline Church. Families were contacted to receive the gift cards and later contacted to see how they were doing and discuss current status and future plans. A few families were referred to counseling to help deal with their loss. When the Red Cross closed their cases at the end of July, SERVE 6.8’s case management team assumed regional responsibility.

Of the numerous needs met, one family with medical needs decided to relocate out of state to be closer to extended family and was given assistance with food and fuel for their trip. One man received help to obtain the part needed for him to fulfill his half of a work-swap arrangement. In another case, a family of renters spent hours cleaning up the ash and smoke damage in their home, only to be evicted when their landlord sold the property out from under them. Most of the gifts were used for fuel and household needs not offered at the distribution center while some were used for the chainsaws, rakes, and rope needed to clean up property. In one case, a team of 18 volunteers travelled high up into the mountains of Rist Canyon’s Whale Rock area to help rebuild a shed and cut down hundreds of burned trees to help control erosion.

In the aftermath of the fire, members of many local organizations came together to form the Long Term Recovery Group of Northern Colorado. This nonprofit group is training teams of volunteers focused on donations, housing, spiritual care, case management, and unmet needs for the next year. Based on their 501(c)3 application, they will assume responsibility for the identified families starting September 1, 2012. After the case management transition occurs, Timberline/SERVE 6.8 will continue to be available to help referred families.

When looking back, our response to the High Park fire involved walking through open doors to be part of the solution. We had the privilege to be where God wanted us to be in our community as servants to fill the gaps, show up, and do what needed to be done. The relationships built with local agencies and families will linger long after the fire.

Responding to the High Park Fire

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When the High Park Fire ignited almost four weeks ago, members of the SERVE 6.8 team sprang into action. At the evacuation center at Cache La Poudre Middle School  and later at the McKee Building at The Ranch, caring individuals attended the daily briefings and met with displaced families to provide listening ears, prayer, clothing, and friendship. Timberline Church opened their doors to feed staff from the Sky Corral Ranch and Women’s Ministries showered them with gift cards and gently used clothing to replace belongings left behind during the evacuation.

As the fire grew and the number of homes lost rose, SERVE 6.8 continued to reach out to our community. Team members kept attending the daily citizen briefings and made themselves available to fire victims and relief organizations. This availability led to more open doors when Red Cross and Salvation Army staff welcomed SERVE 6.8 into the resource center at the McKee building.

Established relationships with Samaritan’s Purse led to their contacting Timberline Church to discuss ways we could partner with them.  We offered to host their team as a base of operations and were able to find housing for their advance crew.  Within a week, Samaritan’s Purse trailers full of tools, tarps, and equipment parked in the church lot and an amazing 400 plus new volunteers signed up to help with recovery efforts. In the meantime, another fire ravaged Estes Park and the Samaritan’s Purse team rushed in to offer their services.

With the High Park Fire at 100% containment and the Estes Park fire out, families have been allowed back into the burned areas to see what’s left of their homes and the real work has just begun.  In the past week, SERVE 6.8 teams have been working with Samaritan’s Purse in Estes Park to help fire victims sift through the ashes and attempt to find memories as well as closure. Over the next six weeks, trained volunteers will begin work in the Rist Canyon and Glacier View communities as well.

As the focus shifts from evacuation to recovery, SERVE 6.8 will continue to be there showing the love of Christ in tangible ways with no strings attached. If you are interested in helping, please contact Mike Walker or Ron Hedrick at 970.482.4387 or at http://www.facebook.com/Serve68.

High Park Fire Update – Samaritan’s Purse

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An Update from our SERVE 6.8 Team – http://www.facebook.com/Serve68
High Park Fire Update – Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Yesterday our Timberline Chaplains attended the regular briefing for evacuees at the Ranch. The American Red Cross is beginning client case work and has a center set up and operating in the McKee building. This is different from what the county is offering at the DRC on the CSU campus although the Red Cross is also there. The McKee building is also where Timberline is plugging in alongside Samaritan’s Purse. You will find our tables side by side in the McKee building offering home recovery services for homeowners.This weekend you will have an opportunity to become part of this effort with Samaritan’s Purse. Please plan on attending a weekend service and then afterward, stop by Serving Central in the mall for additional information. Summit classes for this Sunday have been canceled so that we can have a meeting for anyone interested in working with Samaritan’s Purse as we minister to the families and individuals displaced by the fire. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there this weekend and also on Sunday evening.

Thank you all for your faithfulness. We look forward to seeing many of you this weekend at services and at the Sunday evening meeting.

Photo: High Park Fire Update - Friday, June 22nd, 2012<br />
Yesterday our Timberline Chaplains attended the regular briefing for evacuees at the Ranch.  The American Red Cross is beginning client case work and has a center set up and operating in the McKee building.  This is different from what the county is offering at the DRC on the CSU campus although the Red Cross is also there.  The McKee building is also where Timberline is plugging in alongside Samaritan’s Purse.  You will find our tables side by side in the McKee building offering home recovery services for homeowners.</p>
<p>This weekend you will have an opportunity to become part of this effort with Samaritan’s Purse.  Please plan on attending a weekend service and then afterward, stop by Serving Central in the mall for additional information.  Summit classes for this Sunday have been canceled so that we can have a meeting for anyone interested in working with Samaritan’s Purse as we minister to the families and individuals displaced by the fire.   We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there this weekend and also on Sunday evening.</p>
<p>Thank you all for your faithfulness.  We look forward to seeing many of you this weekend at services and  at the Sunday evening meeting.