As tens of thousands of acres are being consumed by fires in drought-stricken Colorado and Utah, destroying some 200 homes so far, tens of thousands of residents and businesses in Florida are dealing with Tropical Storm Debby's high winds, tornadoes and double-digit rainfall causing severe flooding in many central and northern Florida counties.
In an interview on Tuesday afternoon, Rocky Mountain District Superintendent Don Steiger said that at this time, no AG churches have suffered damage due to the half-dozen or more large fires burning in Colorado and Utah - and the fire threatening the district campgrounds has been brought under control. However, he said overall, hundreds of homes and cabins have been destroyed by the fires.
Steiger said that the Waldo Canyon Fire could be seen from Colorado Springs - the location of the Rocky Mountain District offices - and was perhaps a mile away from the city. "The [Waldo Canyon] fire is only five percent contained at this time," Steiger said, "but those containment efforts are at locations that threaten populated areas."
But with the extreme temperatures, tinder-dry conditions and strong winds, safety is not guaranteed - and neither is containment of the fires. This morning, reports came that the Waldo Canyon Fire had jumped the containment line and moved into the city of Colorado Springs, destroying homes. More than 30,000 people have fled their homes (including some AG ministers) and the U.S. Air Force Academy has also been evacuated.
Convoy of Hope has sent an assessment team to Colorado along with a truck of relief supplies. They are planning on working with Timberline Church in Fort Collins to assist victims.
In Florida, drought is not a concern at this time. Tropical Storm (now Tropical Depression) Debbie has dumped up to 26 inches of rain in some locations, with flooding of highways, streets, homes and businesses common in many central and northern counties.
The West Florida District Council reports that at this point, there has only been minor damage reported to AG churches as one church lost some siding. However, many homes, businesses and even entire cities - such as Apalachiola - have been without power for days, but reports now have the number without power under 12,000 customers.
John Joseph, the chief administrative officer for the Peninsular Florida District says that so far there have been no reports of church damage due to the storm - but the rain isn't expected to end until later today.
Convoy of Hope is not planning a response to Florida as they've been informed that the local relief agencies can handle the need at this time.