Waldo Canyon Fire Survivor Offers Advice for Black Forest Fire Survivors

Written by Andy Stauffer

July 29

waldo canyon fire victim video

Here’s a great video from Fox21 News in Colorado Springs that has an interview with a woman who lived in the Mountain Shadows area whose home burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire. She has some great advice for the victims of the Black Forest Fire that she shares in a couple places. You can watch the whole video (it’s 25 minutes long), but we found a few pertinent sections that we think are important that we’ve highlighted below with some of our thoughts.

10:30 “…it seems really bad today, but it’s going to get better…”

If you’ve recently lost your home due to the Black Forest fire, this woman’s advice should be encouraging! She’s been there before. She probably knows exactly what you’re going through, and she’s optimistic about the future.

10:48 “…we’re thinking about pairing waldo [canyon fire] families with black forest [fire] families to be mentors. …I’m doing that on a very little scale [already]…”

In Colorado Springs, we’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support for Black Forest fire victims not only from the community at-large, but also from the families who have lived through the Waldo Canyon fire. This lady is a great example of this: she had started organizing ways to help the Black Forest fire victims on her own, all out of the goodness of her heart. There are lots more people similar to her out there who are very generous and willing to help! We suggest you take advantage of this if you can.

11:25 “…if you’re a black forest [fire] family that wants to get some help and input from somebody who’s already been through this process… tools are already in place on the Colorado Springs Together website (www.coloradospringstogether.com), so I think the hope is to allow us to help people who are just getting started in this process because we learned a lot this last year. What I think was hard for us is that we didn’t know what to expect, and I think if we can help some of these families understand ‘here’s what you need to be thinking about,’ ‘here’s ways that we navigated it,’ ‘here are some things I wish we would have done,’ ‘here are some things that we did really well,’ I think that will be a help to them. That’s my hope.”

We agree with her—we think www.coloradospringstogether.com has been an excellent resource for those affected by the Waldo Canyon fire: they have a resource center for homeowners, an events calendar, a discount card you can apply for that works at local stores, and much more. While Colorado Springs Together is not currently focused on helping families affected by Black Forest fire directly, that may be an option in the near future.

12:30 “…it’s incredibly important that they get that [insurance claim] process started; they have to contact their agent, get a claim number set up and start to understand what their coverages are and what’s available to them… I don’t know that we fully understood that our insurance policy provided for us to have the hotel paid for, and things like that…”

This may actually be a pleasant surprise for you—you may not know all the things that your insurance policy covers, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent to figure out which expenses you’ve incurred that are reimbursable. Remember to keep all your receipts! We have seen some insurance companies cover an amazing amount of expenses that you might never expect, so be sure to check about everything.

14:15 “…they have to figure out what they want to do… that took us a while—we weren’t sure we wanted to rebuild. It’s a tremendous amount of work, [and we were] very, very happy with this lovely home that we [had rebuilt], but it’s a lot of work…”

This is something we’ve heard many times in the past year as we’ve been helping to rebuild the Mountain Shadows community—some homeowners are wondering whether they even want to rebuild their homes or just take the insurance payout and move somewhere else. We can certainly sympathize with this, and we would never tell homeowners to rebuild if they don’t want to, but we are very happy to help if they choose to. We think that, given time, most homeowners will choose to rebuild because they still want to live in the same community that they’ve lived in—they chose the Mountain Shadows area for a reason, and while the natural beauty of trees and greenery is certainly a part of that, there’s more to a neighborhood than that.

In a different video, this same homeowner can be seen standing in front of her house that’s being rebuilt and she says “I’m looking forward to coming back… where we are [staying] now is great, but it’s not our home, so we want to be home.

14:43 “…they’ve got to figure out if they want to build back in that area where they’ve lost so much of what probably drew them in the first place… then they[‘ll] go through the process of looking at homes: do they go with a custom builder?”

In the case of the Waldo Canyon fire, most of the Mountain Shadows area looked like a bomb had exploded. Homes were completely leveled to the ground, cars were nearly liquefied and became molten blocks of metal. The ground was scorched and landscaping was turned into a charred mess. However, barely one year later, the community is being rebuilt and not only are some homeowners living in their brand new homes they’ve already finished building, but the community is coming back together with passion.

When it’s all said and done, it’s our bet that the community will look remarkably similar to the way it was before in just a year or two from now. The grass will come back, the trees that are being planted now will take root and the neighborhoods may look as good as some of the newer neighborhoods on the east side of town. It will look like a newly-built development—without the old-growth the west side was famous for, but still in excellent shape.

15:00 “…we happened to spend a lot of time… at the Parade of Homes… to get some ideas [such as]: ‘do we even want to do this [home building] process?’… ‘what do we like about a home?’… ‘what builders are we interested in?’… and that will take a fair amount of time…”

We’re excited to be a part of this year’s Colorado Springs Parade of Homes. The home we’ve entered is one that was burnt to the ground during the Waldo Canyon fire, and while we rebuilt the home, it was totally re-imagined from the ground up. So we’re creating something for the homeowners that is on the same piece of property as before, but with a completely new, improved home that is customized for their lifestyle. If you are coming to the Parade, please come visit our home! You can take a look at the finishes, design, layout, and more, and you can meet our team and talk more about how you can rebuild your own home.

24:22 “…it’s remarkable to me that less than a year after our fire, you have this community that’s so far along in the rebuilding process…”

After learning what it takes to rebuild fire-destroyed homes after the Waldo Canyon fire, we are primed, prepared and ready to go with rebuilding from the Black Forest fire. We would love for you to contact us and come in for a meeting to discuss your rebuilding options.

As of this writing, 94 homes in Mountain Shadows are already completed, and over 200 permits have already been issued for building. Things are moving along! Let’s make the Black Forest a part of the success story as well with a fast rebuild.


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