I remember the day my city caught fire. The dark, acrid smoke that permeated the air. The haze that blotted out the usually crystal clear view of Pikes Peak out my window. The ash that fell like deathly black snow crumbling to dust as I walked over it frantically trying to get my belongings, siblings, and pets into our cramped suburban.
The Waldo Canyon Fire that lit Colorado Springs up in 2012 was one of the most emotional, frightening, turmoil-causing events I have ever walked through in my life. My family’s beloved farm, home to a plethora of assorted cows, horses, pigs, chickens, kittens and dogs, was surrounded with trees and right in the path of a fiery beast.
I remember the fear I felt as I packed up my most important belongings and rushed to put my box of stuff into our car. Mandatory evacuation was being ordered for our neighborhood and as we struggled to get our most needed belongings into our car it suddenly became very real that my childhood home could be easily be burnt up and lost forever. As we drove away (trailer full of cow and horses attached) the thoughts that circled rampantly through my mind were those of never seeing this home ever again and never being back to the place that had been home for so long. The thought was foreign and suffocating as the thick smoke that twirled through the night air.
Thankfully, our home was spared. The winds shifted and ended up bypassing our valley of trees. We were incredibly blessed. Others however, were not so lucky. 346 homes burned resulting in the worst fire that our city up to that point in time had ever experienced. Our city ached with a sense of loss over what the fire had stolen away but the destruction was most apparent in the lives of those who did not have insurance on their homes or belongings. I know people who went from being proud homeowners to owning nothing but ash in a matter of minutes. I had never really considered why one would need fire, flood, or other disasters insurance before this time. To me, such things seemed like something that was only found in movies. The Waldo Canyon Fire changed this view for me though. I began to understand the true value of insurance and why it is something that is important for everyone to have. The world is full of unpredictability and it is vital to have a backup plan for the days where everything goes wrong.
However, my families struggle with the fires was only the beginning of that summer’s natural disasters. Our home had escaped the pathway of the devastating fire but the loss of trees within our city resulted in extreme flooding. The soil that usually would have retained vast quantities of rainwater were gone and the creek beside my home became swollen and began to flood to an extreme that we had never seen before.
We have a bridge that we have to drive across in order to get to our driveway and drive up to our home. This bridge usually is not an issue to cross as the water underneath it is maybe a foot deep and slowly and lazily strolls downhill. After the fire though, the water was churning black, angry, and completely covering our ten foot tall bridge. The water level was incredibly high and we were stranded at our home for multiple days. We had no way to get out of our driveway and we watched in horror as the storming, churning water constantly beat our stone bridge with unreal force.
Three days later, when the water levels finally receded, the damage was extreme and irrevocable. The structure of the bridge was not only compromised, but huge slabs of concrete had cracked and been swept away. Holes, cracks, and missing chunks of stone were apparent in the entirety of the bridge. Horrified, we wondered if we would be able to cross the bridge as half of one side was missing. The loss was undeniable and heart wrenching as we looked at the continued damage that the fire’s in our city had caused.
Our family literally could not leave our home due to the damage caused to our bridge. We knew that something had to be done immediately and that it needed to be fixed promptly. This is when in my young life I finally fully grasped the full significance of what it means to have insurance. Our insurance company swept in, took a look at our bridge and began the tedious processes of immediately getting people to repair it and filing our claim. The claim was filed and the bridge was repaired in a matter of days. The cost of damage was beyond anything my family ever could have afforded and I am so grateful (to this day) that we had insurance in place to help us afford the cost of repairs. Our insurance in many ways saved us financially that day and they even went out of their way to make it a positive experience for us.
Through the Waldo Canyon Fire and the severe flooding that followed, I learned the value of what insurance can do and realized why insurance is important to me. Insurance is a safety net and is a quality way to protect yourself against the unexpected. Having insurance is a key way to ensure that despite what happens in life you have a backup plan that in place. It can be devastating for those who do not have it and I am incredibly thankful that my family had the safety net of insurance when unexpected disaster struck us.
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