President Obama has declared a state of disaster in Colorado, where wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to evacuate.
The Waldo Canyon Fire, on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, is also responsible for the death of at least one person. A body was found inside a charred house late Thursday and another person from the same house is missing, according to CNN.com.
President Obama’s declaration means that federal funding will be available for the state and local governments, as well as eligible nonprofit organizations.
The president plans to travel to Colorado Springs Friday afternoon to personally assess the damage, according to reports.
“I really appreciate the president coming here … if nothing more than just to reassure us that this a focus at a national level, that there are people all over this country who are concerned for our citizens and those who have lost their homes,” Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach told CNN.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates it could be mid-July before the Waldo Canyon Fire and the High Park Fire, which has been burning since June 9, are fully under control, according to CNN.
An investigation is underway to determine whether the fires were caused by arson.
To help with relief and recovery in the Colorado Wildfire Region
The following organizations are assisting in the area, according to the Associated Press. Please click on the group’s name to go directly to its website.
American Red Cross Colorado
Red Cross workers are staffing shelters in several locations and helping connect evacuated residents with a range of basic needs, including shelter, food, hygiene supplies, recovery information, health and emotional support. Please designate your gift to “disaster relief.”
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) teams are actively providing relief to evacuees from both the Waldo Canyon Fire and the High Park Fire with additional volunteers and resources on standby should they be needed. Please designate your gift to “disaster relief.”
Larimer Humane Society
Larimer Humane Society is coordinating the rescue of all animals in the High Park fire zone, providing owner-requested food and water to animals not evacuated (as permitted by Fire and Sheriff authorities), reuniting owners with lost animals, and providing temporary shelter for evacuated animals.