Angels Amongst Us
by Judy Collier, Staff Features Writer
Angels, in the form of humans, are truly amongst us these days in the mountains and valley. Firefighters, and first responders are high up on the list of those who are working tirelessly to put out the largest fire in US history. They are truly angels for everything that they are doing in our part of New Mexico. They are also working hard to make homes and property close to the fire more defensible if the winds shift once again. Driving past the Angel Fire Airport you can’t help but admire the pilots risking all to drop water and fire retardants from helicopters and those awesome looking planes.
They are not the only angels here. Let me mention many areas where angels are giving our communities aide. Housing is a serious issue right now if you have been evacuated and or have lost your homes and property. Chisholm Realty group and other realtors are helping with shelter assistance. RV parks are giving spaces to those with motor homes, trailers, 5th wheels and campers. High schools are opening their auditoriums for shelter. Seasonal and full time residents are offering their homes here to evacuated families. People are inviting guests to stay with them in their homes. Motels and cabins are also letting evacuees and their pets stay. Eagle Nest Marina has firefighters staying in their cabins. Local churches are opening space for those who have evacuated too.
Eating is a big issue when there is no power in your neighborhood and you have had to leave. Restaurants are feeding firefighters, first responders and volunteers. Homeowners are making meals for the same group of people. Neighbors are feeding their neighbors, and grocery stores are giving food out as well. The biggest influence in the valley right now is a faith based all volunteer organization called MERCY CHEFS.
MERCY CHEFS have been all over the Enchanted Circle serving professional restaurant quality meals and clean water for victims, volunteers and the first responders in natural disaster across the United States and Internationally. They began in 2006 and have help from over 10,000 volunteers serving meals in at least 26 states so far. The chef team provides the best and most nutritious meals they can possibly create. Local volunteers also work along side the teams to serve up these meals in the most efficient manor I for one have had the pleasure of receiving. The food is definitely delicious, and generously portioned out. You pull your car up to park where they are set up, go pick up a bag with 2 full sized meals and even waters, no questions asked. Friendly, sweet angels smile at you and wish you a good day.
Household items, toiletries and good have been given out and will continue to be as long as we are still in disaster situations. The local dollar stores have given out goods, the school’s FFA has collected dozens upon dozens of goods, toys, books and clothing around our valley including from Angel’s Attic Resale Shop. Angel’s Attic has been helping people with clothing and goods since the fires began. Our customers are donating extra items they have so we can hand them out to those in need. School children have brought us bags full of their toys and books to share with other children who have lost everything or just can’t go back home to get their things. Customers are also donating extra money for us to use in our ministries that aide in this kind of need.
Angelic ranchers and farmers are offering their own land to house livestock for evacuees without charge, as far away as Colorado. Motels are allowing evacuees to bring their pets under certain conditions. It is my understanding as I write this article that hay for the livestock is in peril of being wiped out in this area and ranchers are not sure where the much needed feed will come from. Those of us living in the safe zone, at least for now, are opening up our extra yard space for ATV’s, vehicles, tractors and mowing riders, etc. for friends who don’t want to risk leaving them in a SET zone.
I cannot begin to imagine the stress and worry that is associated with being evacuated, not knowing if your life’s belongings, your home, your animals are safe. I surely cannot imagine what it is like to be told you have lost everything to the fire. I can pray for peace and understanding in your circumstances and really hope that everyone affected or not by this terrible occurrence will be kind, gentle and patient when dealing with others, especially in the weeks and months ahead when real issues of finding a new place to live, and goods to obtain and animals to be sheltered will be even more intense than they are now. Be the angel who makes someone smile each day. We all appreciate the prayers and wishes from those not in the area right now, but feel our pain, they are angels from afar