The Waldo Canyon Fire, recorded as the most destructive in Colorado history, has directly impacted thousands of Colorado Springs’ residents, as well as many businesses in the region. The response and outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous. These efforts are going to become even more focused with the formation of Colorado Springs Together, a non-profit organization and website operating as a centralized “clearing house” for information, services, and resources available to those in need—as well as for those who are able to offer help.
After the destruction caused by the fire was complete, Mayor Steve Bach saw immediately how our city needed a single organization leading the long-term recovery effort. He called upon Bob Cutter, longtime resident and technology business executive, to form an independent, community driven, volunteer team to coordinate the timely execution of these efforts. The Colorado Springs Together team, formed for this purpose, is a cross-section of Colorado Springs business and community leaders.
Rather than replacing other organizations offering relief, the Colorado Springs Together initiative will be linking to and partnering with those organizations. Cutter states, “We are a leadership team coordinating and focusing the efforts of many organizations, working to rebuild and restore damaged areas as quickly as possible and, by doing so, give the affected people hope for a more normal life.”
Cutter used Jeff Thomas and his team at 30dps to develop the website www.ColoradoSpringsTogether.org. This website will set appropriate, well-coordinated priorities for the rebuilding and restoration of impacted areas, and offer immediate and long-term resources for those people left in need after the disaster. The scope of the website is still in its earliest stages, but will continuously evolve and expand, ultimately encompassing all aspects of the restoration process. Residents can use this site as their first stop in looking for critical information. 30dps will also offer their services for public relations and communications.
- A list of affected residents is being developed by the City, individual HOAs, and the Mountain Shadows Community Association. This electronic list will be integrated with the Colorado Springs Together website to ensure all residents get immediate and accurate notification of news and information during the restoration process.
- On Wednesday, July 11, City staff met with Mountain Shadows representatives to discuss ongoing security patrols. This was done to ensure appropriate security is available during all phases of rebuilding, especially prior to and during debris removal.
- On Thursday, July 12, the City Forester and staff planned how to handle the burned trees on public property.
- A dedicated debris removal task team is establishing the process for private homeowners to initiate their own recovery plans, as well as a broad-based approach to a neighborhood-wide debris removal plan for public spaces and roadways. These plans will accommodate the needs of private homeowners and insurance companies, but focus on the quick removal of debris (such as burned materials and landscaping damaged in the fire) from public areas.
- The new CST website is already expanding with updates on how to select contractors, with connections to new resources being made available through donations and with the latest announcements from FEMA, including those about waiving the 30-day flood insurance on a case-by-case basis.
Funds will be raised directly from companies and individuals and integrated with other philanthropic initiatives, including the Colorado Fire Relief Fund 2012, created by Governor John Hickenlooper. This will ensure that this organization, Colorado Springs Together, is the focal point of efforts dedicated to those people most impacted by the fire. Donations of in-kind support are also accepted.
Ent Federal Credit Union has generously stepped up as the first financial contributor of cash, with other organizations like 30dps, Hogan Lovells, and Stockman, Kast, Ryan and Co., CPAs, providing large in-kind donations. We look forward to announcing many more significant contributions from local philanthropists and businesses which have already been in contact with CST and are very supportive of its single mission focus.
- Helping people through this transition period, especially if they have lost homes, while maintaining and enhancing the Mountain Shadows community spirit at all levels.
- Mounting an unprecedented coordination effort to speed up the recovery, rebuilding, and restoration process, and supporting a community vision to be better than before.
Combining these two strategies will help ensure that the Mountain Shadows area comes back better and more vibrant than ever before, despite the devastation caused by the fire.
Other specific action steps include:
- A temporary community center to take over from the Disaster Recovery Center within the next few weeks. The center will be located within the Mountain Shadows community.
- Appointment of a board of directors for the organization.
- A benefit concert to be jointly sponsored by The Mountain Shadows Community Association, Colorado Springs Together, and the City of Colorado Springs oversight committee.
- Development of the process to ensure effective allocation of funds, using the experience of J.D. Dallager (CEO Pikes Peak United Way), Peter Maiurro (Vice President El Pomar Foundation), and Bob Cutter (President of Colorado Springs Together), along with neighborhood representatives Francine Hansen and Chuck Fowler, of the Mountain Shadows Community association and Parkside HOA respectively. The money will be focused on maintaining a community during the rebuilding phase, and providing community assets as a memorial to the events of the last week of June 2012.
Anyone who would like to assist in the restoration of the affected neighborhoods will be able to volunteer their time as well as donate money on the website. According to Cutter, “The funds donated will go to satisfy the unmet needs of the victims, assist in the restoration of the affected neighborhoods, and maintain and grow a sense of community among those areas torn apart by the fire.”
Colorado Springs Together is dedicated to bringing together the substantial resources within the Pikes Peak Region. Focused efforts of local businesses and citizens will ensure full restoration comes about quickly and effectively. To give or receive assistance, visit www.ColoradoSpringsTogether.org.
Colorado Springs Together Leadership Team:
|John Cassiani||Home Builders Association||Home Construction|
|Terry Storm||Pikes Peak Association of Realtors||Housing/Accommodation|
|Joe Raso||EDC Chamber of Commerce||Business Community|
|Bob Cutter||Colorado Springs Together||Team Leader|
|Carol Odell||Better Business Bureau||Vendor Quality|
|Jeff Thomas||30dps||Web/Social Media/PR|
|John Cook||Hogan Lovells||Legal|
|Eric Ryan||Stockman Kast Ryan||Accounting/Finance|
|J.D. Dallager||Pikes Peak United Way||Caregiving Organizations|
|Peter Maiurro||El Pomar Foundation||Philanthropy/Funding|
|Lt. Col. Roger Sherman||21st Space Wing||Military Support|
|Amy Lathen||Chair EPC Commissioners||County/Government|
|Francine Hansen||President Mountain Shadows Assn.||Neighborhood Rep.|
|Chuck Fowler||President Parkside HOA||Neighborhood Rep.|
|Jim Johnson||GE Johnson Construction||Project Planning|
|John Putnam||Putnam Assurance & Risk Services||Insurance|
|Steve Cox||City of Colorado Springs||City/Government|
|Jerry Forte||Colorado Springs Utilities||Utilities|
|Charla Cook||Colorado Springs Together||Admin Support|
|Cathy Grossman||Ent Federal Credit Union||Marketing|
|B.J. Scott||Peak Vista Foundation||Healthcare|
|Scott Hente||Colorado Springs City Council||District Elected Official|
|Henry Yankowski||Regional Building Department||Permits/Codes/Planning|