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Frustrated evacuees walk out of community meeting

Frustrated evacuees walk out of community meeting

MONUMENT, Colo. - Frustrated evacuees said Saturday they were pushed over the edge by one El Paso County commissioner's comments at the Black Forest Community Meeting organized by El Paso County commissioners.

Fed-up evacuees walked out of the meeting in Palmer Ridge High School's auditorium. 

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton addressed the standing-room only crowd. Fire victims were given advice on how to prepare for forest fire evacuations. Upset residents said they needed that advice before the fire started, not now. Evacuees left the meeting in droves.

One meeting attendee shouted, "it's a little late Peggy." Another woman shouted at Peggy to "move on" and give them "information."

One woman gave the meeting a positive review but called the commissioner's remarks "disgustingly inappropriate."

Black Forest Community Club President Ed Bracken attended the meeting. He applauded El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn for his work during the Black Forest Fire disaster. He said the meeting was a step in the right direction, despite its rocky start.

"There was a lot of frustration and a lot of emotion going into that meeting," said Bracken. "A lot of the people at that meeting had lost a home. So, those discussions with respect to, 'you should pack a 72-hour bag,' 'you should grab your birth certificate,' was not germane to that meeting because they were beyond that point."

"A couple of the speakers were talking about what they did need to do before the fact and I'm not sure if that was quite the right meeting for that," said meeting attendee Ryan Wanner.

He doesn't live in the Black Forest but he owns a coffee shop in the evacuation zone. He said R & R Coffee Cafe is still standing. He plans to open it Monday morning. He thought the meeting was productive.

"It was a really good way of putting the community all together in one direction to make sure everything is solved the right way," said Wanner.

Attendees at the meeting suggested there be one website to streamline communication with evacuees.

Others suggested the county's disaster assistance center be moved closer to Black Forest.

"I thought it was a good meeting actually. It gave a lot of information about what's available for those who need it. They're not here to tell you about when you get back in," said meeting attendee Joe Ricci.


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