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Navigating recovery after the Marshall Fire

A view of the Marshall Fire taken outside of the YMCA in Lafayette, during the evacuation on December 30 2021. The fire was the most destructive in Colorado history with 1,084 homes destroyed and 149 damaged.
John Kelin
/
KGNU
A view of the Marshall Fire taken outside of the YMCA in Lafayette, during the evacuation on December 30 2021. The fire was the most destructive in Colorado history with 1,084 homes destroyed and 149 damaged.

The Marshall Fire in Boulder County was the most destructive in Colorado history destroying 1,084 homes and 7 businesses.

It began as a grass-fire the morning of December 30, 2021.

Resources to help people in the ongoing recovery have been centralized in a brand-new location, the recently-launched Marshall Fire Recovery Center in Louisville in Boulder County.

Ben Edelstein, co-chair of the Marshall Restoring Our Community (MROC), said the center is meant to be a community resource for everyone affected by the fire.

“The primary function of this center is to give a space for the families that are working through the recovery, to come and meet with recovery navigators through the recovery navigation program,” he said.

Eight recovery navigators will help guide people through the process of rebuilding and healing.

“It’s intended for folks to, you know, not just meet with people that are helping with their recovery,” said Edelstein.

“But also others, you know, as a gathering place for community members to get together and, you know, share their stories and share their resources.”

Lisa Rice, another of MROC’s Board members, says the disaster recovery center is a place where people can meet with recovery navigators, gather information, and file their claims.

“Part of every recovery is a gathering place,” she said.

“A place where people can come to learn, and hopefully receive funding and support that they need.”

Before the opening of the new Louisville center, MROC operated out of several temporary spaces.

“We were meeting at the old Nordstrom building at the mall for a while,” Rice explained.

“That was the donation site, right after the fires. And then we have been meeting at the Ascent Church, also in Louisville.”

The Marshall Fire Recovery Center is also meant to be a gathering place for groups and individuals to meet and talk about what they’re going through.

“Our mental health support system will also be here,” Rice said.

“So if people need that extra support, which we’ve found has been very utilized over this process the last 10 months. So we want to make sure that there’s a space for all of those things.”

Board member Grant McCurry said MROC has received funding from several sources, most recently from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

“They gave us a really nice grant that will help fund this through 2023. We’re hopeful that we can get most of the issues settled by then with the recovery navigators. The people who are trying to rebuild, or even not rebuild, we’re trying to get them in,” said McCurry.

In the earliest phase of operation, there was a nearly overwhelming demand for services.

McCurry says the new office should help alleviate that.

“There was such a volume of incoming calls that the recovery navigators were having trouble getting back to the people. We’re hopeful that that is better now,” he said.

The Marshall Fire Recovery Center, at 357 McCaslin Boulevard in Louisville, is planning a series of commemorative events through the entire month of December, leading to the first anniversary on December 30th.

This story from KGNU was shared with us via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations including KDNK in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.