Monday, September 30, 2013

Red Cross Volunteers Visit Isolated Area Near Eldorado Canyon State Park

Story and photos by Phil Wendel

Red Cross volunteer Diane O'Neil, of Madison, WI, moves
carefully along the washed out area of a road leading to
Eldorado Canyon State Park.
A team of Red Cross volunteers found out that often it really is the road least traveled that gets you where you need to go.

Two volunteers, Brenda Haney and Diana O’Neil, both of Madison, Wis., are members of the Red Cross disaster assessment team. They and others on the team go throughout devastated areas to check on damage to residences. That information helps the Red Cross determine where it needs to put it resources to make the most effective use of the donated dollars.

The assessment team along with a public affairs volunteer arrived at Eldorado Canyon State Park to find out how the flooding affected those living on the park’s western edge. The only way the Red Cross team could get to the residents was to hike two miles uphill along pathways that were less than safe.

The team’s decision was quickly made – onward and upward. The Red Cross mission is to help those who need help and the only way to do that is to go there and find out how things are. After an hour of hiking, the team found those living there most surprised to see anyone, especially volunteers from the Red Cross, clearly recognizable by their red vests.

Red Cross volunteer Brenda Haney, of Madison, WI, talks
to Karen Burke and Mary Kinghammer, with hat, who are
two residents living near Eldorado Canyon State Park.
The first homeowner contacted, Karen Burke, had been busy removing  the paneling, carpeting and furniture damaged or destroyed by the flooding. She introduced the volunteers to her neighbor, Mary Klinghammer, and together all five went further up the hill.

The Red Cross team came to a section of the road that had been entirely washed out with the other side reachable only by traversing a narrow shelf. While the neighbors bounded over, the Red Cross crew moved a little more slowly and cautiously. More neighbors were contacted across the wash and the team assessed the extent of damage. Residents Betty Reed and Betty Wanier said the Red Cross volunteers were their first contact with any outside support group since the flooding began.

Although most of the homes suffered minimal damage from the flooding, the biggest problem was the road leading to their homes was washed out, leaving them in near isolation. The day after the team met with the residents, the Red Cross delivered water and blankets to the Eldorado Fire Department for the delivery by ATV to the residents.  Efforts are under way by officials to get the road repaired before winter. 

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