Editorial: No one died, and Granby is alive and well
(Originally published June 10, 2004 in the Sky-Hi News)
When everything in Granby seemed to be going wrong, everything else was going right.
On the fateful day of June 4, 2004, Marv Heemeyer rammed buildings, flattened cars and attempted to destroy the town of Granby in an armored and armed bulldozer.
Yet no one was killed in his attack on the town. Not one person. In fact, hardly anyone was injured. The only fatality occurred when Heemeyer killed himself after his raging rampage.
This is truly miraculous when considering the extent of the damage caused by Marv Heemeyer that day. Twelve buildings were heavily damaged. At least five of those buildings were total losses. Of those buildings, four were bonafide public buildings where many people work. His attack occurred during the afternoon of the normal business day of June 4.
Yet no one was killed.
This is truly miraculous. But this miracle occurred because people helped make what could have been an awful disaster into a miracle of survival through smart police work and smart emergency planning.
The efficient and fast evacuation of Granby played the critical role in saving lives. Once the nature of what was happening in the western part of town became obvious, the county used the fullest extent of its resources to get people out of Granby. That was smart and the right thing to do.
This was accomplished by door-to-door, on-the-street police work in a crisis situation. Sheriff’s deputies, U.S. Forest Service personnel, National Park Service personnel, Colorado State Patrol Troopers and other all worked furiously to get people out of Granby. They directed traffic. They pounded on doors. They barked orders. And people listened. They left town.
The reverse 911 system also was an extremely important element of the quick evacuation of Granby. Phones rang in homes and businesses throughout Granby. The caller, in a recorded message, told people to head out of Granby to the east, toward Fraser. It warned in clear and urgent tones that people should leave town — now! People listened. In a matter of minutes, Granby’s central area was deserted.
And then there’s the emergency response of fire departments, emergency medical technicians and county and town employees. Fire departments split up their forces and left obvious targets. EMT personnel did the same, taking up secure positions away from danger so that if the need arose, they’d be ready.
Firefighters and rescue personnel from across the county rallied and all were on hand to help Granby.
The end result was that no one was killed. Why? Because really there really wasn’t anyone in town to be killed. That is the glamorous-not-so-glamorous truth. If people had been in town on a normal footing, it’s clear many people would have died. But the town was evacuated.
Clearly, lives were saved. And that is the miracle of June 4. No one was killed. Not one person.
We can all be thankful of that simple, clear and glorious fact. Thank your sheriff’s department. Thank your 911 system. Thank your public servants.
Marv Heemeyer set out to destroy Granby, obviously not caring if he killed people along the way. But Heemeyer failed. In fact, the end result has been the exact opposite. Despite the damaged buildings and trauma, Granby has come together as a better place than it was before Heemeyer’s rampage. Granby has pulled together in an affirmative show of unity and caring.
Even better, the town is operating and thriving in a spirit of cooperation not seen in years.
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