This weekend our office had the privilege of having a booth at the annual Black Forest Festival in the Black Forest region just Northeast of Colorado Springs. Though the community is small, this annual event draws thousands from around the region. Highlights include a parade, petting zoo, live music, great food, and local artists selling their goods. This year Gov. Hickenlooper was also present to help dedicate the memorial to the Black Forest fire that occurred in June 2013. This wildfire burned nearly 500 homes and took the lives of two individuals.
The Black Forest is very special to Dr. Derek and his family. Dr. Derek's wife grew-up in the forest. One year before the fire, they moved to the area with the hopes of starting their family in this unique and special community. When the fire broke out, 2/3 of their immediate neighbors lost their home. Dr. Derek's home was narrowly spared, but he and his wife were forced to live in a hotel for three weeks as the area was largely uninhabitable due to downed utilities, etc. Less than 8 weeks after the fire, Dr. Derek and his wife welcomed their newborn son into the world!
Two years have passed since that catastrophe, and the region will never be the same. The once thick forest is still scarred with remnants of some burned houses and foundations, and large patches of trees are still in need of being clear cut. It is encouraging, however, to see the new homes being constructed and hope again being restored. This community is extremely resilient, and the impact of such a natural disaster has only made it's citizens that much stronger.