For 416 Fire evacuees, information about food assistance, help finding a day job, assistance with your monthly mortgage coming due and more is available at the Disaster Assistance Center in the Extension Building at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
“We haven’t seen a lot of people,” said Erika Morin, who was operating the table set up by Manna soup kitchen on Monday. “We’ve given out three food boxes and two gasoline vouchers today. Whatever we can do, even if we help one person, it’s worth it.”
The Durango Food Bank also set up a table and offered assistance including toiletries and laundry detergent beyond food assistance.
“We want people to know help is available. I’ve seen nine people today, but only two needed help,” said Larene Teets, a Durango Food Bank volunteer.
The Durango Food Bank collected 5,000 pounds of food on Saturday at a food drive held at Walmart, and she said food drives will continue this week at the store.
The Disaster Assistance Center, set up in partnership with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, will also be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday. Additional dates are will be scheduled.
Brandy Risinger, coordinator with Labor Systems Durango, said she will be at the Disaster Assistance Center on Tuesday to aid people seeking temporary day labor opportunities to fill financial gaps after being furloughed by the fire.
Sherri Dugdale, director of health protection programs with the San Juan Basin Public Health Department, said the agency can provide assistance with applications for Medicaid; Women, Infants and Children and food stamps. In addition, the agency can assist with questions about the poor air quality.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs, and they have different wages, and that makes them eligible for an array of federal programs,” said Alyssa Maynard, thriving families coordinator for San Juan Basin Public Health.
A family health care coordinator from San Juan Basin can aid families navigating health care providers including aid with finding primary-care services in addition to applying for government health-care assistance, Maynard said.
Colton Black, banker-broker associate, with Wells Fargo, said his bank, and many others, offer disaster-assistance options for mortgage holders who are temporarily without income because of the fire.
Wells Fargo, for instance, offers as much as 90-day stays of monthly mortgage payments for people who have been evacuated. Also, on a case-by-case basis the bank will waive fees for account holders if they are suffering financial disruptions because of the fire, he said.
“With the fire, people are dealing with their immediate needs. Having to pay the mortgage 30 days down the road is not necessarily what they are thinking about, but assistance programs are there,” he said.