by Larry Chiuppi, DSP24

What did you do to protect CORA's electronic files and important documents?

Both computers were backed up to a thumb drive and we took both computers with us when we left. Along with all monies, the checkbook and a few files.

Were any CORA infrastructure systems modified prior to evacuation? Such as the water system, pool, sewer plant, electricity, etc.?

The water was tested and the chlorinator was filled. Tom checked the sewer plant to make sure all systems were operating. We shut the pool completely down on Sunday morning before we left. We could’t see leaving it on when no one would be using it and we didn’t know how long we would be gone. CORA never lost electricity during the fire, however, we did lose phone service on Saturday (June 30th) afternoon.

Where did you and the Workampers evacuate to?

  • Tom and I stayed in Arvada with John and Marsha Ludivig
  • Bruce and Jasmine Elliott evacuated to Colorado Springs and stayed with their son and daughter-in-law
  • Richard and Charlene Amacher stayed with Rick and Cindy Pruitt (Lot DSP001) in Buena Vista
  • Delmar and Sharon drove to Lake George and stayed at the Travel Port Campground
  • Chuck and Alicia evacuated to Arrowhead Point Campground & Cabins in Buena Vista for a few days and ended up in Monument at Colorado Heights Camping Resort

Describe any procedures / process, other than CORA folks, used for notifying the owners of the voluntary and then mandatory evacuation

We drove to every occupied lot in each campground notifying folks of each evacuation notice. On Saturday evening we had a lot of people coming from the cities taking their trailers off of their lots and gathering their belongings. We drove around asking when folks were leaving and I made notes on a map as to who was staying. We asked those folks to leave their outside light on so we would know they were there. Also we informed them if they hear vehicles honking during the night they were to leave immediately. I ended up giving my map with notes to the Sheriff’s Department when we went to mandatory evacuation. Hopefully it sped up their process of going door to door.

What did you do for your own personal safety and evacuation preparation?

Well, we thought we would load up the motorhome and leave. However, the jacks would not retract. Tom didn’t have time to work on them so we loaded up the car and the CORA truck and left the motorhome behind. We packed a few things on Friday afternoon and added to it on Sunday when we left. Tom was in constant contact with the officials so we knew about an hour before the Sheriff arrived that we were in mandatory evacuation. We left when the Sheriff arrived. There were three lots occupied at that time.

What agencies / personnel were you in communication with for fire information and evacuation status?

We were in contact with several agencies. As we found out during this situation that it depends on where the fire is located as to what agency is involved. When the fire escalated it was in the federal government’s hands. That is when the tent city went up south of Fairplay and the pumpkins and sprinkler system arrived on CORA property.

During evacuation we received information from Dana Schmidt, Liaison Officer, Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team. They were set up at the school in Fairplay. We also attended a couple of meetings at the school where heads of the different departments were speaking.

After arriving back at CORA we were in constant contact with Jeff, Head of Security from the Florida Forest Service. He handled safety and security for most of the fire area. His relief was Wayne Rushing, also from the Florida Forest Service.

We were also in contact with the National Forest Service, Park County Sheriff’s Department, Kristy Olme – Fire Chief with North-West Fire Protection District, John Adams – Ranch of the Rockies (RORA).

Please add any information that CORA lot owners might find interesting leading up to the evacuation. Include names of any lot owners that helped out or assisted you, and what they did.

Sue Shaw, DSP073, came to the office periodically giving us moral support. She explained that she has worked with FEMA during hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Sue said that from what she could see we were doing things exactly by the book. She said that we could take the test, pass it, and work for FEMA. Sue also explained when people go through a traumatic event (fire, hurricane, etc.) that a lot of times their brains function differently. She that during an event she would ask a person their name and they couldn’t answer her. Also, she told us that during such an event you need to tell people exactly what they need to do – their brain isn’t working properly. This information helped out a lot – it made us more understanding of how people were reacting. Sue also made sure her street and surrounding area was notified of the evacuation.

Briefly, describe your interactions with the firefighters, sheriffs, forest service and what you saw them do to protect CORA

We had A LOT of fie personnel here on the property. Every evening a dozen or so fire trucks would line up in front of the clubhouse and sit there throughout the night until the next morning. There was a security person at the gate of CORA twenty four hours a day, doing 12-hour shifts. There were several firefighter personnel posted at different locations throughout CORA tracking the fire. When we arrived back at CORA there were at least 50-60 trucks on the property driving around – scouting. Of course, there were helicopters with buckets flying over CORA.

Briefly, describe what needed to be done to CORA's infrastructure before owners were allowed to return

When we arrived back at CORA there was barely a trickle of water coming out of the faucet. Tom checked the water system. As it turns out the firefighters were pumping water out of the hydrants for the pumpkins in the upper campground and drained the tanks down. The pumps weren’t working as a fuse had blown.

We had Tim Zingler, the water guy, come to CORA and test the water – it checked out okay. The chlorinator had to be filled.

Tim checked the sewer system and it was working properly.

The boiler and pumps for the pool had to be turned back on and Tom tested the pool chemicals. Everything tested okay at the time. However, with the pool being completely shut down and the doors and roof vents being shut down for seven days, we are now struggling to get the pool cleared up.

All Service Centers had to be thoroughly cleaned as the firefighters had been using them.

CenturyLink had to be contacted to repair the phone lines – they were operational on July 10th.

If there are any individuals that you would like to personally thank, I would be happy to include that as well

A BIG THANK YOU to our amazing team of Workampers! They came back before the CORA folks arrived and thoroughly cleaned all the Service Centers and made them ‘spic and span’ again. Also, we want to thank them for hanging in there with us and coming back to help us out for the rest of the summer!

We want to thank Bruce and Jasmin Elliott, Relief Caretakers, for their constant support and staying with us until the mandatory evacuation. They helped with notifying our CORA folks of the mandatory evacuation. They assisted us in the office, answering phones and helping Tom.

A special thank you to John and Marsha Ludivig for their support and giving us a place to ‘crash’ during the evacuation.

We appreciate the officials honoring our request to be notified a day or two before the mandatory evacuation was lifted so we could come back to CORA and make sure everything was working properly before lot owners arrived back at CORA.

Tom and I would like to thank our CORA folks for coming in and offering thanks for keeping them posted on the fire situation. People were very grateful for all that we had done. We certainly appreciated all the kind words.