Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Looking forward: Starting over after the Waldo Canyon Fire

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 12:20 PM

These past couple of days of packing, labeling boxes and preparing to make the move into our new home, I realize just how much my family has been through this past year, following the loss of our home in the Waldo Canyon Fire. As I helped unpack boxes and attempt to make a dent in the enormous stack in the kitchen of our new home, I couldn't help but feel the true weight of this time of transition.

Walking through each room, the smell and tickling sensation of sawdust filled my nose and lungs. The towering piles of boxes, the half-put-together beds and other extraneous materials perfectly exemplify the chaos of this past year. As I stood near the window, taking in the new textures and sensations of being back home, in a different home, the charred black trees on the hillside stared back at me, a harsh reminder of the devastation from the fire.

click to enlarge Our new home (top). The debris of our old home (bottom) a week after the fire. - PALMER FAMILY
  • Palmer Family
  • Our new home (top). The debris of our old home (bottom) a week after the fire.
The destruction of my family's house, along with 345 others in a fire, that began on June 23, 2012, a first of many losses, will forever be imprinted in the heart of our community. Brutally, it was followed by the Black Forest fire this past summer, and then the flooding that swept down the burn scar. 

Each natural disaster has shed light on the reality of how mercilessly Mother Nature can have her way. The hundreds of stories, shared memories and inevitable bond that has formed throughout the community make me realize that mine is just that —- one story of how my own life was changed. 

Since losing our home in the fire, my family began down the path of impermanence. Living in a rental house for the past year, we have experienced a taste of the uprooted feeling of not knowing what to call home.

When my parents made the decision to rebuild — the big loaded question of this past year — they set out on the painstaking road of designing their "dream" home. As our new home has come into existence, it truly has become just that.

As exciting as it is to see our new house finished, the process of moving in has been overwhelming to say the least. As of now, we are in a limbo state, half of our stuff still in the rental house and half of it in the new house. Waiting for the plumbing to be fixed and for a few of the loose ends to be tied up, we are centered in a state of chaos.

Yet, in the midst, it has been truly amazing to see the house and all its décor come into fruition. I am awed, proud and incredibly grateful for my parents who have gone through this challenging process and come out on the other side, a bit frazzled, but steadfast in their willingness to stick with it. 

Thinking back to this past year — the fires, the floods and the accompanying trauma — I can say that without the stronghold of family, friends and a community like ours, my story, along with the many others, would be much different. This past year has been a true test of resiliency and how to start over when devastation knocks down your door. Looking forward, I see the first of many Christmases, celebrating the chance to start anew in a beautiful house we can finally call our home. 

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