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Valley firefighters join relief effort

From the Boy Scouts to the fire department, people in the valley are doing their bit to help the massive relief operation under way in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.For firefighters at the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District, it’s almost become routine to pick up their equipment and head south toward disaster. Last year, Chief Ron Leach led a contingent to Florida to help hurricane victims.Carbondale Fire hasn’t sent anyone to the Gulf Coast yet, but they’re making ready, emergency medical services director Ken Motsenbocker said. “We’re putting together a list of six people as a management team,” he said, which includes Leach, Basalt Fire Chief Scott Thompson and Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob.All three fire departments are working in conjunction through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a nationwide organization that provides interstate mutual aid.”They’re putting (teams) together all over state, and within the next 48 hours we will start deploying,” Motsenbocker said.Also on the local team is Carbondale firefighter Vern Holmes. The team will be joined by two emergency management teams from Boulder, Motsenbocker said.Carbondale is also organizing an ambulance to drive to the Gulf Coast that will include a crew of three: a driver, an EMT and a paramedic, he said. That will also go south within 48 hours. Carbondale has received calls from concerned citizens and is now organizing a fund-raising effort it hopes to launch in the next week.”We haven’t decided, but the community contacted us because they want to get involved,” Motsenbocker said.Meanwhile, everyone in the department is itching to be off, to be of help.”The main thing is getting something together quickly because these people need help now.”But Motsenbocker said it’s also important to be thoughtful and well-organized before leaping to help.”It’s one thing when you have a major disaster and everybody runs there, then it’s total chaos. You’ve got to have some organization. This could go on for months.”Motsenbocker will not be in this first wave of help from Carbondale.”I talked to the chief last night and said of course I’d go down there if you need me,” he said.He also said the team makes a commitment for 16 days, “and if we’re still needed, we’ll send a relief team. But we also have balance it out. We also have to continue to provide coverage, but pretty much everybody wants go.”People and organizations all over the valley are also rallying to collect donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here’s what some are doing:• Boy Scout Troop 225, of Glenwood Springs, has donated $250 to hurricane relief and will collect donations Monday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Safeway in Glenwood Springs. Monies collected will be donated to the American Red Cross.• All local public schools are collecting money for the victims through Alpine Bank.• Alpine Bank is accepting donations and is matching them up to $25,000. It has also donated $10,000. Stop in with a cash, check or credit card donation at any Alpine Bank.• WestStar Bank is matching donations up to $10,000. And the McCormick Tribune Foundation will match any donations made through the bank at 50 cents on the dollar.• Glenwood Canyon Resort and Rock Gardens has pledged to donate a portion of proceeds from each raft trip booked this weekend to the Red Cross. For each guest taking a $43 adult half-day trip, $10 will be donated, and $5 will be donated for every child under 12 rafting for $31.• The Crawford Renovation Co. of Houston, Texas, has formed Crawford Cares. Through the Web site, families who are interested in sponsoring a family displaced by the hurricane can register and be matched with a small business that is interested in meeting those needs through adoption. The six-month program is designed for businesses to adopt families and employ one member of the household. It will also provide housing, including groceries, clothing, furniture and school supplies, and basic utilities for six months. A trust account in the family’s name must be set up to receive donations and disburse funds to cover the expenses included in the sponsorship such as rent and utilities. To volunteer, go to http://www.crawfordcares.com.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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