Lot by lot, the Mountain Shadows neighborhood in Colorado Springs is showing signs of residential life again after this summer’s devastating Waldo Canyon Fire. Eleven homes of the nearly 350 destroyed have been rebuilt, and about 80% of homeowners have resolved their insurance claims. But, as KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports, the community still faces big obstacles.
Colorado Springs Together President Bob Cutter says one-third of the properties now have permits to rebuild and only one homeowner is still unable to start clearing debris. But along with insurance disputes and revegetation, Cutter recently told City Council the biggest remaining challenge is the huge range of emotional responses from fire survivors.
"From the people who got on with rebuilding immediately to the people even today that find it very difficult to return to their home site who [sic] was destroyed by the fire."
President of Mountain Shadows Community Association Eddie Hurt says strong emotions struck some of his neighbors only in recent weeks. A rogue wave seemed to overcome him as he addressed council.
"Well, you can see. I didn’t even lose my house I’m pretty emotional still. But also there’s a lot of people there angry, a lot of anger. In the last probably three weeks I couldn't tell you the number of people I’ve spoken to who -- you just have to listen. There’s nothing you can say or do. Sometimes they may not even be rational."
A partner organization of Colorado Springs Together offers counseling and group therapy for neighborhood residents. Hurt says he rebranded the men’s session after realizing few were attending. Now called the "Mountain Shadows Fighting and Drinking Club," the group drew some 30 men to a local brewery for its first session.