03 July 2012

SALVATION Army teams have been providing relief and support services to residents of the Waldo Canyon area of Colorado, following a wildfire that President Barack Obama described as causing 'enormous devastation'. The blaze, considered to be part of the worst fire season in the state’s history, has destroyed almost 18,000 acres since it began on 23 June. Hundreds of homes have been razed and tens of thousands of people evacuated.

The enormous blaze is now more than 70 per cent under control, according to official sources, but it may be another week before the fire is dealt with completely.

More than 32,000 people were evacuated from Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in the state, where The Salvation Army took on feeding operations at YMCA Southeast Family Center Shelter and Cheyenne Mountain High School Shelter. The Salvation Army’s local units have been providing for immediate needs, such as food, water, comfort and counselling. Further teams at Summit Elementary School shelter in Divide and Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument are feeding evacuees living in shelters.

In order to better assist the growing number of people who have had to leave their homes, additional Salvation Army teams from the states of Montana and Wyoming have been deployed.

Elsewhere in Colorado, The Salvation Army in Fort Collins has been providing clothing and food boxes to evacuees from a smaller-scale but still destructive wildfire in the High Park area that began earlier in the month. The Salvation Army's team of volunteers at the Disaster Recovery Center provided gift cards to evacuees to enable them to purchase basic essentials such as clothing, shoes and groceries. Spiritual care team members on site provided a listening ear to evacuees. A total of 5,961 meals, 13,851 cold drinks and 10,758 snacks had been served by 25 June.

The Salvation Army is assessing the needs of disaster survivors in both locations and will respond as necessary – both immediately and in the longer term.

Further information on The Salvation Army's response in Colorado, and donation details, can be found via the USA Western Territory's website: www.usw.salvationarmy.org