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Wildfire victims plan to rebuild despite challenges: 'I can't imagine going anywhere else'

Diane Williamson says she, others underinsured
Posted at 9:42 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 00:42:08-05

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GRAND LAKE, Colo. -- Sometimes, putting your life back together starts with something as simple as paying a few bills.

“This is the Discover card and then this is the car insurance,” said Diane Williamson as she sifted through a pile of bills. “This is the normal life and then you throw in the part where your house burned down.”

The past few weeks certainly haven’t been easy for Williamson.

“It’s been tough because... you’ve lost everything,” she said. “And you’ve got to start from the ground up.”

Never has that statement been truer than now.

“The fire just took everything,” Williamson said. “I’m just in awe.”

We first introduced you to Williamson five weeks ago, Friday, November 6, the day she returned to her home for the first time since the East Troublesome Wildfire ripped through her neighborhood northwest of Grand Lake.

“Just seeing if we can find anything underneath the rubble,” Williamson said on that November day while sifting through the rubble.

The fire forced Williamson and hundreds of others to leave their homes behind.

“I got a text from a girlfriend’s daughter saying, ‘Get out and get out now,’” she said. “I left the front and back doors unlocked and headed down the road.”

And yet, through it all, Williamson and others are picking up the pieces - getting by with a little help from their friends and getting strength from family.

“For me, I figured I needed the moral support down here (on the Front Range) with my kids and grandkids and everything and with the holidays,” Williamson said.

There are still many challenges ahead.

“Like everybody else I’ve talked to, all of us are underinsured," she said. “But I figure in a couple years, I hope to be back up living in my own house. I can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

Recovery that starts by simply taking care of a few bills - which we were happy to pay for Williamson thanks to the generosity of Denver7 Gives and viewers like you.

“Well, thank you very much,” Williamson said.

A community pulling together to help those who have lost so much.

“It’ll help out a lot,” she said.

If you’d like to donate to Williamson’s GoFundMe page, you can find it here.

Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires. To donate, go here and then look for "Help Colorado Wildfire Victims" in the dropdown. We are working with our community partners up and down the Front Range to ensure every dollar raised stays in Colorado and helps families who've lost so much.