Nearly 1,000 homes and buildings were destroyed and two people are still missing in Boulder County, Colorado, after devastating wildfires.
Hundreds of residents in Louisville, Superior, and surrounding towns lost everything they owned. As relief efforts continue, locals are now contending with freezing temperatures and snow.
Months of drought and exceptionally warm weather triggered the wildfires, as strong winds fanned the flames, engulfing more than 1,500 acres of land in a matter of hours.
Utility crews are working tirelessly to restore electricity and gas service to homes that did survive the blaze. In the meantime, countless people are showing up at Red Cross shelters to get space heaters, bottled water, and blankets.
More importantly, the community has come together to help one another.
Residents who didn't lose their homes are volunteering to distribute donations and offer moral support.
"We have a house, no heat, but we still have a house," said high school senior Noah Sarasin. "I just want to make sure that everyone else has heat on this very cold day."
While picking up a space heater, Superior resident Jeff Markley said he felt blessed that his home was unharmed and he was "just displaced."
"We're making do, staying with friends, and upbeat for the new year. Gotta be better than this last one," Markley said.
Judy Givens, who lives in Louisville, said the new year wasn't beginning very well.
"It's bittersweet because we have our house, but our friends don't. And our neighbors don't," said Givens as she picked up a heater. "We thought 2022 might be better. And then we had omicron. And now we have this, and it's not starting out very well."
KUSA News reports that several organizations have stepped up to meet the urgent needs of Coloradans affected by the fires.
The Community Foundation Boulder has collected more than $1,200,000 through its giving campaign.
The Salvation Army is providing thousands of meals three times a day to evacuees and first responders.
And the American Red Cross of Colorado is operating an evacuation center at the YMCA of Northern Colorado to support residents.