1 year post-fire, questions linger about distribution of Marshall fire funds
- December 27, 2022
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LOUISVILLE, Colo. — If there’s one thing Cindy Stark Reid has come to appreciate about the Marshall fire, it’s that you don’t need much to make a home.
“Homemade, handmade ornaments that were all donated,” Cindy Stark Reid said. “We all need less than what we have.”
“We’ve had to learn to live more simply,” said Cindy’s husband, Joseph Reid.
Cindy and Joseph have been living in this one-bedroom apartment since the Marshall Fire destroyed their home one-year ago this week.
“It’s been a great place to live,” Joseph said.
“Kind of amazed that it’s already almost a year,” said Cindy. “And I’m in a much better place than I think I expected to be.”’
The couple is certainly appreciative of the community’s generosity.
“I feel fortunate that things have turned out as well as they have,” Joseph said.
With the help of their daughter, Joanna, Joseph and Cindy have been able to navigate many of the charitable resources available to fire survivors.
“So many sources between the county and the city and feds and the state that there’s just something coming out all the time,” Joseph said.
“All of the opportunities for support,” Cindy said. “There was clothing, food, you name it. Shoes, boots, coats. Probably every two weeks, they would get a name-brand in and announce that it was coming. Vuori, the first time I went, you were allowed to pick out ten pieces.”
And while there’s much to be grateful for, they and others are also critical of the Boulder County Wildfire Fund and how it’s being distributed.
The vast majority of the fund, about $20 million of the $43 million raised, is being allocated to homeowners who are rebuilding.
Each will get $20,000 to rebuild, while those who choose not to rebuild will not receive those funds.
“From a charitable perspective, why not?” Joseph said.
Because of underinsurance, the astronomical cost to rebuild and the time it will take for all the construction in the neighborhood, Joseph and Cindy have decided to buy a home in neighboring Lafayette instead.
“And with the increased mortgage rates, you would think the people who are buying houses in the community could get some of the principal offset,” Joseph said. “Why is not offsetting the principal of a purchase in the community as worthy as making a contribution to those rebuilding?”
It’s a question many have asked.
“All the building around you is inconvenient and noisy and goes on and on and on,” said RE/MAX realtor Pamela Subry.
Subry says at the moment, 75 lots are actively for sale in the Marshall Fire burn zone. That’s in addition to 40 that have already sold.
Subry says people are moving on for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of the costs of rebuilding.
“People just don’t have hard costs and they don’t know timing,” Subry said. “I’ll sell my lot, I’ll get my cash from insurance and I’ll buy something somewhere else.”
While the fund has recently added liaisons to reach out to all fire survivors, it’s still unclear what – if anything – those who don’t rebuild will receive.
“That makes me really sad for a lot of people who maybe can’t afford to rebuild,” Cindy said.
A mix of emotions for survivors who continue to navigate life after the Marshall Fire.
“The community did well in many ways,” Joseph said. “It could always do better,”
“My spirits are more lifted as time goes on,” Cindy said.