by Patricia Billinger
Three months after historic flooding devastated dozens of communities in Colorado, the American Red Cross and a number of local community partners are still active meeting basic needs by providing safe drinking water for flood-affected communities.
Due to a variety of flood-related circumstances, some residents in Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven remain without access to a local source of safe, clean water. In some cases, private wells have tested positive for contamination caused by the flood, including e-coli. In other instances, damaged infrastructure has cut off the local water supply.
Red Cross recovery specialists have been participating in disaster recovery assessment and planning efforts being coordinated by local communities throughout the flood-affected area, and those efforts identified the need – and the solution – to ensure flood survivors have access to clean water.
It took a partnership of many to pull it off.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, Red Cross volunteers delivered a dozen 450-gallon water tanks and a dozen accompanying de-icers to a staging area at the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church in Estes Park. The Red Cross had purchased the water-tanks at a discounted rate from Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Longmont and secured a large truck to deliver the tanks to the central distribution point in Estes Park.
From there, community volunteers from Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven – including members of the Big Elk and Glen Haven volunteer fire departments – loaded the water tanks onto their own trucks to transport them to each of their respective communities.
When the water runs out, those volunteers bring the empty tanks back to Estes Park, where the town refills them at a minimal cost that is being covered by the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church.
“This collaboration between local volunteers, community leaders and regional agencies exemplifies the type of partnership that is essential to successful recovery for disaster-affected communities,” said George Sullivan, Director of Community Preparedness and Resilience for the American Red Cross of Colorado. “When a disaster of this magnitude occurs, we must all come together to meet unmet needs and build a stronger, more resilient future for our neighbors.”