Fort Carson assists service members, families displaced by Waldo Canyon wildfire

Story by Pfc. Andrew Ingram, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs

 

Volunteers with the USO and relief organizations, set up a table full of items to assist service members and their families displaced by the Waldo Canyon wildfire at the Special Events Center, June 27, 2012. Fort Carson opened its doors to service members and families affected by the wildfire and is accepting donations of food, clothes and other relief items. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Thome, 1st BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div.)

FORT CARSON, Colo. – Fort Carson opened its doors, June 26, to displaced service members and families forced to evacuate their homes due to the danger posed by the Waldo Canyon wildfire.

At the Fort Carson Special Events Center, soldiers and civilian volunteers are in-processing evacuees from Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy and finding them a place to stay until the fire is contained.

“Soldiers and civilian volunteers are making sure these evacuees are as comfortable as possible,” said Maj. John Price, administrative officer, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, tasked to operate the control point for displaced service members and families arriving to Fort Carson. “We have had a little less than 50 people show up so far, but we are prepared to house as many as 1,600.”

Currently, three locations are open to evacuees: the SEC is available to most evacuees, displaced people with pets can stay at the Fort Carson Youth Center and those with special needs can stay at the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Battalion barracks.

“Our Soldiers and volunteers are doing a great job out here,” said Price. “The USO has set up care packages; we have provided food and are currently working to get computers with Internet installed in the SEC.”

Fort Carson personnel also provide basic medical assistance and emergency services, bus services around post and parking lots for car, boat and trailer storage.

“I feel it is a privilege and a duty to help these people,” said Sherri Riley, a USO volunteer. “We don’t have that many guests yet, but we could get hundreds more before they put out this fire and they are all able to return home. We want to make sure they have everything they need from deodorant to ways to keep their children occupied.”

Those interested in donating clothes, food or other items to evacuees staying at Fort Carson can bring their donations to The Hub on post 24 hours a day.

By providing aid to wildfire victims, the Fort Carson team demonstrates the value it places on the Colorado Spring community as a whole, said Staff Sgt. Melissa Smith, health care specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 43rd Special Troops Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade.

“It doesn’t matter if we only help one person or 1,000,” Smith said. “We are here to care for people in this community. We are expecting a lot more to come through here in the next few days and I look forward to helping all of them.”

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