3:13 pm - Wednesday December 17, 6206

Waldo Canyon Fire Long-Term Recovery Group Formed

With the fires nearly out, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, Mark Rohlena, joined Michelle Swanson of First Presbyterian Church as co-chair at the first meeting of the Waldo Canyon Fire Long-Term Recovery Group (LTRG).
The Group is a collaboration of local not-for-profits who will coordinate services and share resources to help families and the community recover – to the fullest extent possible – the normalcy of daily life that existed before the fires. “Of course, our community will always bear the scars of this disaster,” said Rohlena, “but our neighbors will need long-term support and services to attain what will be for us the ‘new normal.”
For example, with the tourist industry already suffering, Catholic Charities has already had an increase in requests for assistance with daily living expenses from people who have been out of work. Swanson said, “our responsibility to each other extends beyond clean up. We will reach out to assist anyone who needs a helping hand, whether that be counseling, financial assistance, housing assistance and other needed physical, spiritual and emotional supports.”
The LTRG represents about two dozen not-for-profits, volunteer and faith-based organizations. The group identified areas of need and broke into small groups to work on action plans. The areas identified included:
 Financial & Income Assistance
 Housing
 Child Care
 Mental Health and Spiritual Care
 Assistance for the Disabled
 Small Business Recovery
 Disaster Case Management
 Communications
In one of the small groups, Michelle Milner, director of the United Way 2-1-1 referral line, pointed out that timely and accurate information needs to be released to the community. For example, her phone lines are jammed and the agency keeps getting requests for help from the Victims Assistance Fund, but that fund will be administered by El Pomar Foundation.
Kicking off the meeting, Jon R. Wallace, of FEMA, pointed out that there is literally a book on Long Term Recovery and that it is a process with proven success. The same process that will be followed in this community has worked in disasters ranging from tornadoes and hurricanes to the World Trade Center bombing and the BP oil spill.
At this time, the primary manner of accessing recovery services is thru the Disaster Recovery Center or the 2-1-1 line. The Center is located at 105 N. Spruce St. That’s just off of Bijou and I-25 in Colorado Springs and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
Representatives attending the meeting, held at First Presbyterian, from the following organizations:
2-1-1 Referral Line of United Way of Pikes Peak
Adventists Community Services
American Red Cross
Bahai Community
Buddhist Community
Calvary United Methodist Church
Calvary United Methodist Church and United Methodist Committee on Relief
Care and Share Foodbank of Southern Colorado
Christian Church
Christian Reform World Disaster Response Network
Christian Reform World Relief Services
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Colorado Baptist Convention/Southern Baptist Convention
Colorado Land & Trust
Colorado Emergency Management
Colorado Springs Housing Authority
Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Cragmoor CRC
Ecumenical Social Ministries
El Pomar
FEMA
First Christian Church
Goodwill Industries
Hope Restored
Housing Continuum
Jewish Community of Colorado Springs
Lutheran Disaster Response
Mennonite Disaster Recovery Services
Mercy’s Gate
New Life Church
Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust
Salvation Army
Southern Baptist Disaster
Sunrise UMC
Temple Shalom
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
United Methodist Committee on Relief
Village & Presbyterian Church
Westside Cares
Woodman Valley Chapel
First Presbyterian
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado

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