Sunday, May 3, 2015

Question & Answer with Corban Bryant of Purnaa

Tribune: Going forward, what plans are in the works for recovery?
Bryant: Our plan is to start work on Tuesday! We've had some gifts from friends in the U.S. that have helped our employees with emergency cash and we plan to support those that have to relocate.

Tribune: Does this change your mission there, from what you initially envisioned? 
Bryant: This doesn't change our mission. We are here to create good jobs for people with no opportunities. Now is a time our work is especially needed.

Tribune: Can you tell us anything about how you and family are dealing with the crisis on a personal level?
Bryant: Our family are all very tired and frazzled, but we can't imagine leaving. There have been over 50 aftershocks and each one gets our hearts racing. 
Photo Information:
1. At the time this photo was taken: "We have confirmed about 90% of Purnaa staff are OK after the earthquake. We are trying to contact a few remaining people," Bryant said.
2.  Photos are from staff who were assisting in removing rubble in the Patan area. 
3. An earlier photo before the earthquake shows the #Purnaa team rocking the Fashion Revolution Nepal Event. "Thankful to be a part of bringing awareness and change to the garment industry in Nepal and globally."
4.  Crowds in the streets dealing with the damage.
5. One of our employees, Bikash G, found a group of 40 small girls from an orphanage that have been left to fend for themselves. We were able to buy them food and a tarp to keep them out of the rain and Bikash is staying with them to make sure they are OK. So many people left to take care of themselves.
6. The last few days all of the Purnaa staff have been coming to the office for community lunch. We've processed the trauma of the quake together and tried to meet immediate needs. The kids are waiting patiently for food to be ready. ‪#‎respondtonepal‬ ‪#‎purnaa‬
7. The last two days we've been inspecting Purnaa staff members homes to see if they can move back in. This staff members house has a crack from the ground to roof along the front wall, which could result in the front wall falling forward during an aftershock (we continue to have them even a weeks after the initial quake.) We have already moved this family out and found them temporary housing. 

Town disappears from sight, but not memory

Nearby dairies would load the milk cans off their wagons on to the rail platform for pickup.  If you look hard enough, you still might find remnants of the cement underpinnings of that platform on the edge of the jogging trail today. Husted station, back in the day.

Look hard enough again, and you might see the last vestiges of the road that arched around the flat that was once the perimeter of the town.
"Just north will be the main entrance to the Air Force Academy. Here will be a national monument, one of the finest service schools ever conceived man. Thousands of future officers of the United States Air Force will get their training here. They won't know about Husted, and they won't care. Anymore than they care about Ramona, Glasstown, Frog Hollow, Piedmont, Lihue, Montclar —other towns swallowed up by progress in the Pikes Peak region.
On February 19, 1956, J.C. Kinner told a Colorado Springs Gazette and Telegraph reporter that there was once a grammar school there in Husted, until the days of consolidated schools made it obsolete. "It had a saloon, which became a store, which became a postoffice, which in turn became a church. Finally the same frame was used to make the present forlorn Branding Iron Cafe," Kinner said.
The reporter from the Gazette and Telegraph described the Branding Iron Cafe's state in early 1956.
"Has a 'no trespassing' sign. Jones General store has a few boxes of Wheaties, some Certo; a couple of cans of sauer kraut still on it shelves, but the store is closed. The empty gas pump at the Allison's Service Station reads: this sale, $0.00."
The forlorn description goes on.
"Tourist and truckers speeding thru Husted don't know that in the window of the store there's a plaid calico camel. It's been tossed aside. It gathers dust. It's unwanted. But once upon a time some child hugged that plaid calico camel with tender love."
The town of Husted was like that.
From the 1956 description: "A dozen or so building make up Husted today. The Branding Iron Cafe still has its paneled knotty pine walls, its coffee counter, its sink. Picturesque symbolic menus boasting 'we sell soup in pints and quarts' are scattered over the floor. A year ago you could get a minced ham and scrambled eggs with toas for 48 cents. The ubiquitous tumble weeds in the the back room tell a different story today."
Homes, shacks, pigpens, garage, and the train station... all abandoned.
"Once an important stop on the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railroad, once a bustling center of ranchers and lumbermen, is a dead town — sacrificed on the altar of progress."

Photo infor:
Colorado & Southern train, engine number 371, engine type 4-6-2 and engine number 9980, engine type EMD E5. Photo by Otto, Perry, Train #22, Texas Zephyr; 14 cars, fine smoke effect. Photographed: Husted, Colo., June 15, 1945.
Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library

Local man describes conditions in Nepal

Former Tri-lakes resident, Nepal factory owner, and Air Force Academy Graduate Corban Bryant, said his family and employees are holding up, despite the dire circumstances in Kathmandu, and offers suggestions on how to help.
As the first supplies of food aid began reaching remote, earthquake-shattered mountain villages in Nepal, thousands clamored to board buses out of Kathmandu, either to check on rural relatives or for fear of spending yet another night in the damaged capital. 
"In general, the best way to help now from the U.S. is to give. We've set up a fund through YWAM in Colorado Springs and people can give directly to us through this link," says Lewis-Palmer High School Alum Corban Bryant, reached Saturday morning in Kathmandu, Nepal, via email.
"Thanks for checking in and thanks for the offer of help."
Bryant describes his experiences so far:
"The day of the quake, we initiated our staff phone-chain, while most of the team leaders rushed out to areas with collapsed buildings to help search for survivors. One of our sewers had attended a first aid training at Purnaa.  These trainings are surprisingly uncommon in Nepal. Immediately after the first shocks he was able to rescue two people from the rubble and provided first aid to at least eight people," Bryant said.
"By evening, we were able to contact about 80 percent of our 32 staff by phone. The next day we were able to verify everybody was safe either by phone or by driving motorcycles to their homes. None of our staff had collapsed houses, so we asked them to shelter in open spaces near their homes with family and neighbors for the first three nights. Most neighborhoods quickly set up community make-shift tents with tarps in gardens and fields."
Palmer Lake Business "Beautiful & Beloved Boutique" owned by Amber Newberry sells products produced in Purnaa, Bryant's factory in Nepal, said she had spoken with Corban prior to Thursday, and employees at the Purnaa factory were generally fairing OK, considering the circumstances.
"The next couple days we spent our time looking for ways to help around town. This resulted in assistance to an orphanage that borders our sourcing manager's home. The staff had abandoned the children there with the guard and the cleaning lady, who were quite overwhelmed. We were able to set them up with good shelter and supervision until we were relieved by an NGO that funds the home.  A handful of our team leadership attended a quick, unofficial class with a visiting architect who offered an earthquake damage assessment training," Bryant said.
"On Tuesday, we called all of the staff to our facility. We cooked food, processed traumatic events together, paid out emergency spending money, and did a quick needs assessment with everybody. Among our group, there were three deaths to extended family, many unaccounted extended family, and several serious injuries to close family. Although it was the third day after the quake, nearly everybody was too afraid to go back into their homes, and many did not have good shelters in their neighborhoods. Food prices had escalated and many of the tent areas did not have good drinking water or toilet access. We scrounged tarps, plastic, mats, and blankets and set up tents for those who did not have good shelter near their homes (about 20 people.)," he said.
"Yesterday we invited all the staff to the office for food again. We worked on trying to get cash to pay monthly salaries on time. Most banks have just re-opened yesterday and are limiting cash. We also ran around town visiting employee houses to check for significant structural damage. Fortunately, it appears all but a few will be able to move back into their homes tonight."
One of the biggest challenges has been scarcity of tarps. 
"It's rained Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. All the relief agencies heading into the heavily affected areas to the North are also scrambling to find them. A second challenge is that banks didn't re-open until yesterday and now they are limiting cash withdraws. We want to pay monthly salaries to our staff today because they need more emergency cash. We can deposit in their accounts, but they'll have to wait in lines at ATMs to get it out," Bryant related.
"Fortunately, we're in an area of town where power was restored in about 48 hrs. Without this, we'd have no phone battery or internet access. Most of Kathmandu is still without power."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Black Forest fire transformed very quickly into catastrophe

Palmer Lake Fire Chief (and Falcon Fire Department Fire Marshal) Margo Humes says she was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the Black Forest Fire, and the fast-moving fire, on a very hot and dry day, careened out control before fire personnel could stop it.
"The fire was still on the ground when we first arrived and everything available was sent in right away, but it was very fast moving."
She described how she entered a house where the garage was already in trouble and in the process of rescuing pets, and large animals, as she contacted owners by a number recovered from a note on the table inside.
"It was definitely human caused,"says Humes. "No lightning, no traffic, no one around."
Answering a questions about crowning, Humes described how the fire climbed ladder fuel into canopy and transformed into the fire storm of catastrophic proportions it became.

Photo info:

1. Palmer Lake Fire Chief (and Falcon Fire Department Fire Marshal) Margo Humes says she was one of the first to arrive, and explains what she encountered at the start of the Black Forest Fire.
2. A question about crowning was asked of Palmer Lake Fire Chief (and Falcon Fire Department Fire Marshal) Margo Humes on recent tour.
3. Fire marks the eastern edge of this road in Black Forest but left the western side undamaged as it ripped through the forest after starting near here.

Rebuilding after the fire changes a person

Something like this changes you.
"Your whole life is gone. Even after you rebuild, the place is sterile, no photos left, no old clothes, no familiar jacket, or hat. Landmarks are gone. Just a lot of ash.
Bill Mantia, board vice president for Black Forest Together, Inc. knows this, perhaps as well as anyone.
"Once you go through something like the Black Forest Fire, and the rebuilding process. You are not normal," he says with authority.
Just about every tree, his two houses, fences, barns, clothes, all belongings — everything 40 acres can hold, disappeared that day in June, nearly two years ago.
Since then, it has been neighbor helping neighbor. Red Cross and insurance, tracking down mail, and dealing with the planning department, jumping through hoops with the phone company, and chipping trees, and preventing flooding.
There is stress, anxiety, depression. But in Mantia mind, there is no use playing the blame game.
"Everybody did the best they could, under the conditions."
And rebuilding jumps forth, in fits and starts.
He and his wife deadpan jokes about their new wardrobe every now and then.
"Is that new?" he asks, knowing full well that don't have anything to wear that isn't. Everything turned to ash.
On the insurance front, even the well-insured probably have to come up with another 20 percent or so. The battle continues. Neighbor still help neighbors. The work and the rebuilding process goes on. Stumps, and blackened trees, unchecked stream flow, erosion, and sprouting vegetation.
Help still arrives, and friends are still a comfort.
Once a grove of trees, opens now, as a meadow with a view.
"Yes, there are views. But the trees were special," Mantia says wistfully.

Photo info:

1. Black Forest Together board vice president Bill Mantia points out the direction the fire traveled over his own property during an explanatory caravan tour, discussing lessons learned from the Black Forest fire.

2.  Bill Mantia lost his own home in the fire and still is working hard every day to recover from the effects.

3. After the fire, came problems with flooding and this homeowner tries to slow down the devastating effects of unchecked runoff water.

Fire season now a reality throughout the year

With 60 square miles of combustible terrain under his organization's watch, and more and more people living in the wildland/urban interface, the question to the answer of wildfire, is not if, but when? Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Marshal John Vincent knows that. The key is, he says, to become a fire-adapted community. And we do that by planning.
"We live on a fire planet," explained Vincent at a recent Firewise presentation on how to protect homes from wildfire and save firefighters lives at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church, in the Kings Deer area.
"What we need to do is to prepare so we can have fire, but without it becoming catastrophic, as the Black Forest Fire became in less than 30 minutes."
Failure to do so is not an option.
"By not mitigating, you are putting my life in danger," he said. He advocates communities such as our own, becoming Firewise. And creating your own personal evacuation plan with the help of information and tools like "Ready, Set, Go" with the aim of saving lives and property through advanced planning.
"Firewise Communities is a national program that helps communities take action to reduce their risk before a wildfire starts. As fire departments are challenged to do more to respond to such issues as global terrorism, hazardous materials threats, and wildland fires, residents and volunteers can help them reach their safety goals while allowing the first responders to train for and respond to emergencies," says material form National Fire Protection Association's Firewise Communities.
Here on the Front Range, we are particularly susceptible.  
"Fire is, and always has been, a natural part of the beautiful area where we have chosen to live," notes Ready, Set, Go! "Wildfires, fueled by build-up of dry vegetation and driven by hot, dry winds, are extremely dangerous and almost impossible to control.  Many residents have built their homes and landscaped without fully understanding the impact a fire could have on them."
"We have 90 miles of fuel here. We need to get ahead of the curve, after 120 years of fuel preservation," Vincent said, and mitigation extremely important. "None of us have seen natural forests."
"Become part of the solution by developing strategies and becoming Firewise Communities," he said.
Citizen participation is increasingly important in making our nation and communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to emergencies of all kinds, says info from Firewise Communitites.
"Residents and volunteers in communities at risk from wildfire have a unique opportunity to create Fire Wise Communities."
Vincent says he, and other organizations such as Firewise Communities, local departments, home owners associations, all should be able to help develop plans.
"That's why the most important person protecting your life and property is you. With advance planning and preparation, you can dramatically increase your safety and survivability of your property."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forest treatments recommended: Upper Monument Creek restoration initiative builds on Roundtable suggestions

The Upper Monument Creek (UMC) landscape, which has experienced increasingly severe and costly impacts from wildfire, including the record-setting 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that burned across the landscape’s southern boundary, will be treated over the next seven to 10 years using a combination of mechanical, manual and prescribed fire methods on approximately 18,000 acres.
The UMC Landscape Restoration Initiative was launched in 2012 to accelerate the pace of urgently needed forest restoration and build on the work of the Front Range Roundtable. That group has been working since 2004 to dramatically reduce wildfire risks to communities and restore resilient ecological conditions in Front Range forests. The Collaborative Report associated with the initiative recommends the following specific strategies and forest officials say they are proceeding accordingly.

Things to know about forest treatments:

1. The greatest benefit will be accrued through a combination of mechanical thinning, manual hand thinning and prescribed fire. Each tool produces benefits, but a combined treatment approach is most effective.

2. Over the next ten years, these treatments will consist of approximately 6,000 acres in mechanical thinning, 6,000 acres in manual hand thinning, 3,000 acres of site preparation and 3,000 acres of prescribed fire.

3. The majority of treatments will be focused in the landscape’s three primary forest systems: ponderosa pine, dry mixed-conifer, and mesic mixed-conifer.

4. Treatments emphasize the creation of more open canopy conditions, and on retaining and fostering the underrepresented older age trees.

5. The ponderosa pine-Douglas fir system should receive the most thinning treatment, followed by the dry mixed-conifer system with recommended thinning treatment at approximately 5,900 and 4,300 acres respectively. Acres requiring prescribed fire are distributed across the three major forest systems.

6. Treatment is also expected in the smaller lodgepole pine and Gambel oak systems, primarily for the purposes of wildfire risk reduction and/or preparation for prescribed fire in adjacent ponderosa pine-Douglas fir, or dry mixed conifer systems.

7. Total cost of treatment for the proposed management scenario will be approximately $10 million over the next ten years.

The Upper Monument Creek Landscape Restoration Initiative Collaborative Participants:

• Rob Addington, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society
• Mike Babler, The Nature Conservancy
• Mike Battaglia, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
• Ed Biery, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Peter Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research
• Jonathan Bruno, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Tony Cheng, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute
• Casey Cooley, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
• Yvette Dickinson, Colorado State University
• Missy Davis, The Nature Conservancy
• John Dow, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Carol Ekarius, Coalition for the Upper South Platte
• Jonas Feinstein, Natural Resources Conservation Service
• Allan Hahn, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Eric Howell, Colorado Springs Utilities
• Chad Julian, Boulder County
• Jan Koenig, The Nature Conservancy
• Paige Lewis, The Nature Conservancy
• Larry Long, Colorado State Forest Service
• Sara Mayben, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Pam Motley, West Range Reclamation, LLC
• Aaron Ortega, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Felix Quesada, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District
• Steve Sanchez, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Andy Schlosberg, Colorado State Forest Service
• Diane Strohm, U.S. Air Force Academy
• Jeff Underhill, USFS Pike and San Isabel National Forests
• Eric Zanotto, USFS Pike’s Peak Ranger District