“They really had done everything right to prevent their home from burning: installing a metal roofing system three times the efficiency of normal slating, cutting down trees in a 20-acre radius, spraying fire retardant foam—but it still didn’t save them.”
Arizona’s Disaster Relief Director Patty Kirchner further shared that the elderly couple in question were caught by surprise in Colorado’s East Troublesome fire and were forced to watch as 145 mph flame-fueled winds turned their entire community to ash in just two weeks. Eventually, the whole city was completely evacuated.
Colorado has now lost over 30,000 acres of land to wildfires this year.
After beating these blazes back for the better part of a year, Colorado Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) relief teams were exhausted and requested the assistance of Kirchner and her volunteers. Beginning in May of this year, Arizona disaster relief teams began felling trees, deroofing houses, removing debris, organizing ash-out projects and encouraging survivors. Working around the ongoing rainstorms and flash flooding that is also plaguing the region, Arizona SBDR volunteers—the oldest of which was an 82-year-old chaplain—have dubbed this project one of the hardest physical deployments of the year.
“It’s sobering to actually stand on the spot where someone has lost their life. For this tightly knit community in Grand Lakes, Colorado, it has been absolutely devastating. They’ve been hit over and over again, and it’s really wearing on volunteers and the families impacted,” said Kirchner. “And we know more disasters are coming—right now, we’re worried about California because they are losing small towns to fires left and right. Here in our home state of Arizona, we’re getting monsoon flooding. The one thing we can count on is knowing we can always call on our disaster relief family, and that is such a relief to know we have those partnerships to lean on.”
Pray for disaster relief volunteers and state directors in Colorado, Arizona and California who are feeling weary after a full year of recovery efforts and pray for sustained stamina as we head into hurricane season.
Published September 21, 2021