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Gov. Polis visits Grand County evacuees

Gov. Jared Polis and US Rep. Joe Neguse speak with local and county officials Friday at the Vintage Hotel in Winter Park.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

Linda Crane fled the fire Wednesday night, one of thousands evacuees from the Grand Lake area.

She went to her daughter’s house in Granby, but less than 24 hours after the Grand Lake evacuation, Granby was put on a pre-evacuation notice due to the East Troublesome Fire.

Crane and her family weren’t taking any risks.

She evacuated again, this time to the Vintage Hotel in Winter Park. Her family shared their story with Gov. Jared Polis and US Rep. Joe Neguse as the state officials visited evacuees at the site Friday.

“For those who are going through this loss, we’re with you,” Polis said. “Nothing can be harder. It’s a blessing that you’re here and that you’re alive and that you’re safe.”

Crane has lived three miles south of Grand Lake for more than 10 years. She doesn’t know if her house is still there, though she has heard some houses are still standing in her neighborhood.

As for evacuating twice, Crane recognized an emergency like the East Troublesome Fire demands quick adaptation. That doesn’t stop her from feeling the sadness and frustration of the crisis.

“In a situation like this, you have to be flexible and ready to go,” Crane said. “It’s been a range of emotions.”

Gov. Jared Polis speaks with Granby evacuee Stacy Maalik, center, along with her mother and Grand Lake evacuee Linda Crane. The governor visited with evacuees Friday at the Vintage Hotel where Maalik and Crane are staying.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

The family spent Thursday night at the Vintage Hotel, and being a bit farther away from the fire helped to calm nerves from Wednesday’s disruption.

“I think we did sleep a lot better last night,” said Stacy Maalik, Crane’s daughter.

Some of Grand County’s evacuees are government officials like County Manager Kate McIntire, who said she’s still waiting to hear about her home. The governor specifically recognized the efforts of the displaced responders that continue to serve the community.

“For those who are helping and supporting (the evacuees) — many of whom are evacuated from their own homes — thank you for your work on behalf of Colorado,” Polis said.

Neguse and Polis listened to the concerns not only of evacuees, but also Grand County Commissioners and sheriff. After the lives and homes of residents, things like water and electric resources are something the county will soon need help recovering in Grand Lake.

“Despite the uncertainty, there will be a tomorrow and the state will be here to help with the recovery side: the watershed, the roads, the emergency relief, community relief, all those different pieces,” Polis promised.

Those larger questions won’t be answered immediately, especially as Grand settles into the next few days of displacement for many of its residents.

For evacuees like Crane and Maalik, the community support has been amazing. Beyond the efforts of firefighters, government officials and other emergency responders, the small-town attitude of Grand has shined through with seemingly every resident offering help to their neighbors.

“We have a backyard coop with eight chickens, and a lady who lives in Fraser opened her farm to our chickens so we appreciate that,” Maalik said. “Right now, everybody you know seems to be helping each other.”

Courtesy USFS

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