The fires here in Colorado Springs have resulted in a national catastrophe, burning 346 homes, two deaths and as you may know, for a period of time, displacing over 30,000 people.
My family’s home was right in the middle of the disaster – to the left and the right of our little circle style street went the fire storm. Only our neighbor’s house right across the street was burned down. Others had small yard fire and smoke damage. Our home is in good shape, with only minimum issues that our insurance company is helping with. The picture I’ve attached is of our neighborhood 20 minutes or so before the fires swept through. All of the homes on the top of the photo are now burned completely down.
Cheryl’s parents’ home (Carol and Ernie Taylor) was also one of the unfortunate ones. Along with volunteers, we’ve been digging and sifting through the ashes and toxins, trying to find some keepsakes. They are doing good, saying that the “rain falls on the good and evil.” Their attitude is encouraging to the hundreds of others who have lost everything. We are taking tax-deductible donations to assist them, as their personal items insurance coverage was not sufficient. They could use help with replacing their clothes, coats, tools, kitchen supplies, etc. Here is the link if you’d like to help in any way (asking for donation is not the reason for this email – it is an update for you ;-)).
Our children, as well as Cheryl and I, have been affected. We left our home for a 3 week road trip on June 7th. On June 23rd as we arrived at our friends home for a VisionTrust gathering in Greenville, SC, friends called us to say there is a fire in the canyon on the other side of our mountain, and there is a “pre-evacuation” in place. Over the next day we tried to stay focused on VisionTrust work as we continued our trip to Nashville, TN. On the evening to July 26th, the fire storm swept down through our community. Friends of our children texted, called or posted on facebook, all of the details – sometimes saying that “your home is gone for sure.” Our family prayed for safety for those in the community, the fireman and for protection. We lost our appetites that evening for sure.
The next morning, we woke up to a sick feeling of being unsure of what was happening. Did or didn’t we lose our home? Did Carol and Ernie? Our neighbors and friends? We jumped to the computer to find out as much as possible. It was at this time all of us seemed to accept that our home was burned down to the ground, along with potentially hundreds. Deep in our hearts though, we had hope because we didn’t actually see a picture yet of our home. Just hundreds of photos showing the huge fire storm.
I share this with you, because like many other families in the area, we went through the emotion of losing our home to a disaster. We were happy that we knew our family was safe (along with our dogs). But, the reality was we may have lost something very real and a part of us.
Emotionally, we were mostly holding it together. Praying, giving thanks for the good and bad. Knowing that our Lord has something better for us in the future. But again, we also had feelings of loss, grief, unbelief, concern for Cheryl’s parents and so many others.
Thursday morning (the day we were supposed to be back home in Colorado Springs in our house), we were still on the road because we decided to not return to Colorado Springs just yet as we may not have a home. Regardless, we knew we would not be allowed to return to our home even if it was still standing. THIS was the morning that we had our hope renewed and our fears confirmed. We saw aerial photos of our neighborhood that showed our home standing and Cheryl’s parents burned down. It showed our neighbor’s home across the street burned down. More emotions.
We arrived back in Colorado Springs at 12:30 AM Sat morning at Jim Ross’ home – they had just left town and offered their home to our family. Sunday afternoon, we were allowed to drive up to our community and see first-hand the damage. The area was secured in a way that reminded me of Martial Law – extreme precaution of who can enter the area. This was mostly for safety and to limit looting. Instead of driving straight to our home, we decided to drive to a few of our children’s friends’ homes and then stopped at Carol and Ernie’s place, and got out of the car. We stood in awe at the completely leveled 12 unit condo complex. Everything was surreal to say the least.
Finally, we pulled into our little neighborhood. Just as we could see our home, we also saw the burned down home across from it – the emotions came out. There was our home! Excitement. Closure. But at the same time, there was a home right in front of ours completely burned down to nothing. Why them? Why not us? Crazy… We had to leave the area by 6 PM, so we returned to Jim’s house and stayed there through Wednesday. We returned to our home on Friday for good.
In all of this, we give praise to the Lord. We acknowledge that we’ve all been forever changed – the emotions are still working themselves out. We are spending a lot of our time with Carol and Ernie, trying our best to help them through their situation. We are thankful that they have a place to stay for the next few months as they work out all of their options.
Thanks must be given to God and to all of you for lifting us, Cheryl’s parents and Colorado Springs up in prayer. We truly have witnessed an outpouring of concern and offers to help. Those acts of kindness, concern and love help heal the spirit.
Matt & Cheryl Storer
Ways to help Carol and Ernie (Ernest) Taylor:
1. Donate online at http://www.visiontrust.org/ProductDetails.aspx?projectID=VTI-590
2. Carol and Ernie Taylor are also registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond if you’d like to send them a physical gift.
3. Purchase a gift card at Lowes, TJMaxx, Dillards or Kohls and mail it to:
VisionTrust International, 3710 Sinton Rd, STE 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80907