Red Feather Lakes Community Library
Those living in the area during the 2012 High Park Fire and the flooding the following year likely remember the difficulties and sacrifices of those times and the bonding as the community came together to assist one another.
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Here at Red Feather Lakes Community Library we remember those times well. For us, it was a matter of providing information about the fire – smoke could be seen billowing to the east, southeast and south – but just what was really happening was sometimes difficult to come by, despite massive and heroic endeavors by the local fire departments, Larimer County, and the US Forest Service.
Galvanizing resources, the library served as a conduit of information, posting the most recent fire updates as received from the County or the Forest Service, within, just outside and at the library bulletin board on Main Street in Red Feather Lakes Village, just to the east of the post office.
If you were the unwary recreationist, in the area for just a few days, having information on where the fire was, how it was being combatted, and accurate information on road closures and where and when evacuation routes were available was critically important.
With public internet access and 24/7 wireless access within and outside of the library building we also served as a messaging service, allowing visitors and locals to contact outside family and friends by the web, email or phone.
If you were a local resident, having road information was critical – evacuation routes (as required), road closures, progress in combatting the fire, information on transport – removing livestock and the status of large campers or RVs on back roads – and sundry other and related issues.
In 2012, library hours were 11am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday. However, that didn’t necessarily work in an area emergency. We opened Sunday afternoons to allow those who needed computer access for communication an opportunity to do so. If there were people waiting at the library door we opened, ignoring the clock. We extended weekday library hours to fit user needs – closing only after the last individual had comfortably left, whether that was 5, 6 or 7pm – or later.
Sometimes the stories were tragic. As the fire was winding down we assisted an individual requesting a new library card. In providing us with his address – or what used to be his address — he reported that his house had burned down the week before. He got his card.
Normally, during the annual Summer Reading Program we provide small prizes or incentives for reading. For one family that had lost everything but transportation those incentives that summer included soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, picked up by the Assistant Librarian at the local store.
In any event, we’ve learned from those days as did you. The library is pleased to be partnering with Larimer County Emergency Services and the new local nonprofit, North 40 Alliance, in addressing future local emergency information needs. Stay tuned.