Tumultuous times 

Street Smarts

The Waldo Canyon Fire has affected us all. We've shared a community-wide anxiety — concerned for our neighbors, family and friends, our wildlife and forests, and the safety of the emergency personnel who rushed in to help.

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Idette Armstead from the north side is a counselor

How has the Waldo Canyon Fire affected you? It's given me a lot of anxiety. I just moved here a couple of months ago from Mississippi, and I have no family here. My daughter was going to join me, but we had to hold off on that because of the fire. I wasn't under evacuation, but I feel so bad for the people who've lost their homes.

Have you ever lived in a community that's gone through something similar? In Mississippi, we'd get rain and wind from the aftermath of hurricanes in surrounding states, but no direct hurricanes, and no wildfires.

How do you think the local response has been? It's been a relief for me to know how much help came together. The briefings on the local news were wonderful. I didn't know anything about wildfires, so it's really been educational.

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Robert Clark from the Patty Jewett area is a restaurant manager

Have you been personally affected by the fire? Yes, the restaurant got busier, and we had a friend from the Holland Park neighborhood staying with us.

Have you ever lived in a community that's gone through a crisis like this? Yes, I lived near Yellowstone National Park during the fires in 1988. Even though I lived about 60 miles away, the smoke was so thick you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. I remember feeling a lot of stress.

What can we learn from this experience going forward? Maybe we should have stricter rules and fire restrictions, and encourage less debris around houses.

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Lindsey Williams from the south side works in health care

Has the fire personally affected you? Very much. It's on the news 24/7 and my stress level has been higher than normal. A lot of people I work with were evacuees, and some lost their homes. There's just so much stress.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? I lived in Florida for about 10 years, and I've seen hurricanes, tornadoes and fires, but I've never been scared like this. The fire moved so fast, and with the wind it was uncontrollable.

What can our community learn from this? Don't take things for granted. Tomorrow is never promised. The cops, the firefighters, the EMTs work until they're bone-tired, and then they get up and work some more. They do this every day, not just during a disaster. And it's not for the money, because they sure don't get paid enough for what they do.


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