(Photo credit: Fort Collins Coloradoan)
COLORADOAN - Floods ravaging Estes Park and the canyons west of Fort Collins appear to have more people staying at evacuation centers than a year prior when the High Park Fire raged through some of the same areas.
Evacuation center populations are hard to track because they change hour by hour, minute by minute. People may stop in for an afternoon but not stay overnight, and vice versa.
Erin Mounsey, executive director of the Northern Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross, said, compared to the High Park Fire, "very high numbers" of people are staying the night at three shelters set up across the county. Red Cross estimates more than 1,200 people stayed overnight Saturday in 26 shelters across northern and eastern Colorado, from Longmont and Loveland to Fort Collins and Fort Morgan.
There will be an evacuee meetings at 5 pm, at the Thompson School District Administration building, 800 S. Taft Ave., and 7:30 pm, at Timberline Church.
Among more than a dozen, shelters are open at:
• Estes Park: Mountain View Bible Fellowship, located near Highway 7 and Peak View Drive. Its population has hovered around 75.
• Fort Collins: Timberline Church, 29080 S. Timberline Road. While roughly 300 people were at the shelter Saturday evening around 8 p.m., Mounsey said, it's not yet known how many slept over that night.
Tavelli Elementary, 1118 Miramont Drive.
• Loveland: The Thompson School District Administration building, 800 S. Taft Ave. About 50 people - 18 children - stayed the night Saturday.
• Lyons: Lyons Elementary, north of High Street on Fourth
Where stories of the flood and High Park Fire look similar is people banding together to ensure those impacted have resources and a "should to lean on," Mounsey said.
"It's pretty extraordinary, what we're going through," he said, noting it was likely easy Saturday to feel as if disaster was behind us when the sun came out. But the situation is startling, and recovery will go on for some time.
"Everybody comes together, and that's exactly how we're going to get on our feet as a community," he said.
Those escaping flood zones are reminded to reach out to loved ones and let them know they're OK, while those wanting to help can do so in a variety of ways:
• Donate at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
• Call 211 to volunteer. Volunteers must fill out an application and go through a background check. Where possible, Mounsey suggested coordinating volunteerism with your church or rotary groups.
• Donating needed items at the former site of Agilent at 800 S. Taft Ave. in Loveland. A site is being set up, similar to the High Park Fire distribution center at Mervyn's in the Foothills Mall. Please don't donate old clothes or bottled water. You may donate: baby formula, diapers, new clothing and household goods, and cleaning supplies.
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