Cole Creek Community Comes Together, But Winds Cause Havoc With Recovery
Some of the effects of the Oct. 11 Station Fire -- better known as the Cole Creek Fire -- can be counted:
- 9,500 acres burned over.
- 142,500 pounds of seed to reseed the area
- Cost of the seed $712,500. Labor is extra.
- 27.75 miles, or 111 miles of a single strand, of barbed wire fencing.
- 103 surveys received from those affected by the fire.
- 28 cases are closed, leaving 78 open cases.
- $34,000 received by ServeWyoming allocated to fire relief.
- And 65 mph wind gusts over now-barren ground, and into some psyches.
Some effects cannot be counted, such as the emotional losses of homes, other structures and livestock.
Houses that were not affected by the fire are now being damaged by the blowing rock and debris, said Clif Mc Crady, spokesman for the Cole Creek Fire Recovery Organization, which held its monthly meeting at the Evansville Community Center on Monday.
That wind bothers him in ways other than potential property damage, he said.
Mc Crady is doing well despite minor survivor's guilt because the fire skirted to the north and south of his house, but the wind can stoke a fire in his subconscious, he said.
"I know when the wind picks up, it's hard to sleep, because you start to think, 'what's going to happen, what's going to happen.'"
On the other hand, McCrady takes comfort becasue the October event has brought together people beyond passing waves by neighbors, said
"I know a lot more of my neighbors than I used to," Mc Crady said. "When we see each other it's not just, 'hi, how are you,' it's, 'hey James. How. Are. You.'"
People will see a need and come over and help, he said.
A couple of families have rebuilt or are rebuilding homes, barns and sheds.
But the recent high winds have been a problem, he said. "When you've got 65 mph gusts, it makes it hard to get out there and put on a roof."
The winds have caused other problems. The fire burned the vegetation that held the soil in place, Mc Crady said.
Without the vegetation, the winds have blown the mostly sandy soil and changed the terrain of some of the area, he said.
"We've got weed and seed people coming out explaining what things they can actually do to help alleviate some of the blowing and drifting sand and dirt that's out there," he said. "Since all the cover had been burned off ... there's a lot of earth moving, and it's moving quite fast.
"A couple of days driving down Cole Creek it was almost zero visibility, and it would have been better to be in a blizzard than to be in a sand storm like that," Mc Crady said.