BOULDER, CO – When Disaster Relief teams are activated in an area, it is often during the most difficult days in the lives of the people they are called to serve. This was especially true when teams from Utah and Idaho were activated to serve families who lost all their worldly possessions in the Marshall Fire that ravaged communities in Superior and Boulder, CO.
Magic Valley (Idaho) Disaster Relief volunteers, Brenda Crisp and Cathy Keever connected with other DR Volunteers in Utah, February 18, 2022. The Utah team included Don Dana and Chuck Jones from Sandy, David Porter from Provo, and Dan Schaffner from Elko, NV. The next morning the combined crews left for Boulder, CO where they joined UISBC DR Director Russel and Clara Hohmann, who had been in Colorado since Feb 4. The plan was to work in ash-out crews after the Marshall fire hit Boulder County December 30, 2021. The fire destroyed 1084 homes and two lives were lost.
The Utah Idaho Volunteers served with DR teams from Missouri, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, Florida and Colorado. There was a total of fifteen teams that worked this disaster over a period of eight weeks. The majority of their work was sifting the rubble for valuables. Of the over 1800 homes destroyed, 430 of them were completely sifted by the DR teams. Over $100,000.00 of gold was recovered, 2000 pounds of coins, 100 diamond rings, other precious jewels and jewelry were all returned to the grateful homeowners. This was an affluent neighborhood with many accumulated valuables.
Teams were sifting two houses per day. The temperature was extremely cold and at least twice teams had to work in the snow. Hand and feet warmers were a welcomed luxury the team enjoyed when one of the members located some in a local store. The pipes froze in the shower and laundry trailer. Team members were having to descend ladders to access basements. Other team members assisted in the kitchen preparing meals for the many State DR Teams present in the camp.
The team was informed that Boulder County is one of the most unreached counties in Colorado. Among the rubble, several Buddha statues were found, along with many other statues to false gods. When the team finishes a home site, a Bible is signed by the crew and the teams are given the opportunity to pray with homeowners. Before the Utah Idaho team left for their return trip home, they heard that there were fifteen first time professions of faith in Christ made by locals in Boulder. We were also told that in the town of Superior (where many of these homes were located) there are currently no evangelical churches. When someone saw what Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was doing, that person decided that maybe they should have a church in their community. Plans are being made to locate a church planter in that community this month (March) to seek out the opportunities to plant an SBC church.
All work in the Marshall Fire area of Boulder, CO was to be completed by March 1 by order of State and Local Government officials. As of now, all teams have returned to their respective homes.
If you want to know more about how you can be involved in a local Utah or Idaho Disaster Relief team, visit our website at www.uisbc.org/disaster-relief.
This story was submitted by Cathy Keever, MVBC Disaster Relief Co-Coordinator. Photos submitted by Russel Hohmann, UISBC Disaster Relief Director.