After losing home in Calwood Fire, Boulder family offers advice to Marshall Fire victims

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BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Nearly 1,000 families are picking up the pieces in Boulder County after the most destructive fire in state history. 

From tax relief to mental health resources, Gov. Jared Polis and several other government members have established assistance-based programs as part of the recovery efforts for those impacted by the Marshall Fire.

Still, the path forward can be daunting and overwhelming, according to those who have been through this pain before.

It’s a pain Courtney and Todd Walsh know all too well after losing their home to the Calwood Fire in Boulder County in 2020.

“It was a feeling of loss, of just despair,” Courtney Walsh said. “You’re completely lost.”

FOX31 sat down with Courtney Walsh to hear advice for those in a similar situation following the Marshall Fire.

How are people likely feeling right now? 

“You sort of have this, 1-2-3, take care of this, take care of that, you sort of have this adrenaline rush to get through the initial phases of the loss,” she said. “And you don’t really know what’s helpful. It’s hard to actually answer that question. Because while you need everything, you’re also — at the same time, you don’t need anything at all. You’ve just lost everything you’ve ever had, so to pinpoint exactly what you need in that moment is really, really hard.

What should victims be doing right away? 

Walsh said the first few weeks are extremely busy, with calls from loved ones, navigating insurance claims and finding temporary housing. She said it’s critical to take a step back and breathe.

“I think one of the things that I wish I would have been more open to is accepting help. I don’t think I was used to accepting help,” Walsh said. “Being able to really accept help and be vulnerable to allowing the community to accept help, everything from food, to clothing, to monetary donations, I think is all something that it’s hard to initially appreciate that you might actually need those things, and in the long term, those things have all been extremely helpful.”

How can the community best help? 

Walsh said the community support following the Calwood fire was overwhelming, but she said it’s sometimes hard for people to know exactly how to help. She says tangible things like gift cards are extremely helpful, especially for food and toys for kids.

“Mindfully put together clothing that you would want to wear if you lost everything. That’s really important,” she said. “Nobody wants large trash bags of dirty underwear and T-shirts, and after the fire, we became a thrift store. People dropped off trash bags of clothes, and that was really humiliating and hard.”

Be patient.

“It’s a long process after you lose a home. It’s a long process to build back the life and belongings and things you want and need, and I think that was surprising to me, was the long process, not just the emotional process, but building back your life,” she said. “There is a lightness in starting over.”

Marshall Fire related links

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