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Louisville pastor walks path of leadership, sadness to mark Marshall Fire

Louisville pastor walks path of leadership, sadness to mark Marshall Fire
Posted at 10:49 AM, Dec 30, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — The scene in the Superior neighborhood of Coal Creek paints the picture of varying emotions felt by Marshall Fire victims. One year after the fire destroyed more than a thousand homes in Boulder County, causing more than $2 billion in damages, the first new homes are being built in the burn zone.

On one hand, the construction is a sign of hope and growth in the devastated area. But the homes sit next to empty lots still in limbo, like so many residents who lost their homes and are now trying to decide whether to stay or leave.

Homeowners have faced incredible hardships, many living in temporary arrangements over the last year, fighting insurance claim money, and trying to rebuild family memories to make the holidays an enjoyable time.

Louisville pastor walks path of leadership, sadness to mark Marshall Fire

Pastor Stephanie Lord lost her home in the Marshall Fire but is committed to her position as a leader of faith, too.

She led a service at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Louisville called "Remembrance, Reflection, and Resilience," which was designed as a flexible way to offer peace to those who need it, prayer, conversation, and a rally for enduring the last year.

"I think one of the most important things to remember is that everyone around here has a story of Dec. 30," said Pastor Lord. "And that's how I like to ask the question: 'What's your story of Dec. 30?' Whether it was evacuation, whether it was hosting folks, receiving people into their homes, whether it was worry from afar — that has created a lot of different paths for people. I also think it's OK not to be able to articulate what you need, either."

After losing their family home of nearly 10 years, she, her husband and two kids decided to rebuild on the same property. But she is torn in her own emotions between the excitement of a new home, and the reality of their loss.

"Folks in Louisville who have shown so much love and care and generosity, that has sustained us this year," Lord said. "Silliness and time and things that... Now, when we go to our temporary home, it feels full of love. Even though it's different items, different stories connected to them than what we had a year ago, we still have that bitter-sweetness. Decorating the Christmas tree was a unique experience this year, and there are echoes of the loss."

She still pictures her old home in the same footprint of her new one. She said evacuating and telling her kids their home was gone was the toughest thing she's ever done.

It represents the range of feelings and experiences from the Marshall Fire. And Pastor Steph expects residents and families to mark the one year since the Marshall Fire in ways fitting to them. She urges patience with those still working through the grieving process. Their recovery could still take several more years.