September 11th has been on my mind a great deal this week, not just because today marks the ninth anniversary since the tragic events of that day, but because this week I have seen the community of Boulder respond to a crisis in a similar way — with an outpouring of compassion and a willingness to help those in need. You may have heard in the news that the most devastating fire in Colorado’s history has been raging in Four Mile Canyon this week, just west of Boulder in the foothills. The fire started on Sunday morning, and so far, more than 150 homes have been consumed. Although this crisis is on a much smaller scale, the similarities abound.
- Then, as now, the crisis happened in our own community.
- Then, as now, the air was filled with smoke.
- Then, as now, the sound of low-flying planes filled the air (then it was fighter planes since we lived just a couple of miles from the CIA building; this time it’s planes filled with fire-retardant and water).
- Then, as now, the first responders were firefighters, police officers and emergency response personnel.
- Then, as now, those people went straight to the scene with the singular goal of saving lives, and in the case of the fire, homes and property.
- Then, as now, ordinary people everywhere turn into heroes.
- Then, as now, people come forward from all walks of life to do whatever they can to help those in need.
The lesson learned is that, time and again, in the face of tragedy large or small – the overall goodness of people is reaffirmed.
Given the size and destructiveness of this fire, it is astonishing that the loss of life is almost zero. This is thanks to the quick response and dedication of the firefighters and emergency crews. Many of these same folks have lost their own homes in the fire, but continue to battle it back to protect the homes of others. Meanwhile, organizations helping firefighters, evacuees (human and animal), and those who have lost their homes have been flooded with donations and offers of assistance.
Yesterday I went to a drop-off center to donate toiletries and personal items to people who lost their homes, and there was a person directing traffic because so many people were donating. The Boulder Humane Society is sheltering many of the evacuees’ pets, so I dropped off dog and cat food today. They had set up a tent on the lawn due to the sheer number of people coming by to make contributions. I went inside to put my name on a list of people willing to provide more long-term shelter for the pets of people who’d lost their homes, and found 50 people already on the list ahead of me. It feels good to be part of such a strong community.
If you are interested in helping in any way, here are some resources for you.
- The Boulder Office of Emergency Management asks that people who want to make donations for firefighters call 866-760-6489. They should not drop off donations at local fire stations. I called this number and they put my name on a list of people to be contacted once they have a better sense of what types of donations are needed.
- A donation drop-off site for clothing, unused personal hygiene items, diapers and school supplies, has been set up at 3111 28th St., Boulder. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. I went there to drop off some items and they made it incredibly easy – they direct you to a parking place and volunteers come and take your items right out of the car.
- The Foothills United Way is accepting donations to support fire evacuees.
- Sparkplace has set up an amazing site where people can post what type of assistance they are willing to provide or what type of assistance they need. For example, if you have space to host evacuees in your home or to keep pets, etc. you can post it there.
- The American Red Cross of Northern Colorado is accepting donations to help support Fourmile Fire evacuees. To contribute, visit northerncolorado.redcross.org or call 303-722-7474.
- The Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road, is asking for donations to support pets of evacuees. The shelter needs machine-washable blankets, towels, canned dog and cat food, pet toys and cash donations. To contribute, visit longmonthumane.org or call 303-772-1232.
- The Humane Society of Boulder Valley needs blankets, towels, cat litter, canned dog and cat food, 6-foot leashes and cash donations. Visit boulderhumane.org to donate online or text “pets” to 50555 to add a $10 donation to your cell phone bill. Items can be dropped off at 2323 55th St. in Boulder.
- The Boulder County Fairgrounds is seeking donations to support livestock evacuated from the fire areas. The fairgrounds needs hay, horse feed and other services. To help, contact Boulder County Parks and Open Space at 303-678-6200.
- Volunteer Connection is establishing a volunteer list. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- mGive, a mobile donation platform provide, through it’s mGive Foundation, have established a donation campaign to raise funds for the Boulder County Firefighters Association. To contribute, text “FIRE” to 27722. Donations raised through $10 text message pledges will assist the firefighters affected by the Fourmile Canyon Wildfire burning in Boulder, Colorado.
- The Boulder Canyon Firefighters Donation fund has been set up at Guaranty Bank, 1650 Pace St. in Longmont, for the firefighters who lost their homes to the Fourmile Fire.
- The town of Gold Hill, majorly impacted by the fire, is accepting donations for fire victims through Paypal, at goldhilltown.com.