Rabia opened the meeting with an introduction of the Board officers. She then led us in a moment of silence and thankfulness for all life.
First we will have reports from neighbors and officials representing intergovernmental agencies and then we will divide up into committees. Bill Reifsnyder is coordinating what funds are available and told us that Mimi von Litolff established the Universal Life Church Hondo Fire Fund, Monday morning at People's Bank. There is already $l0,000 in the account. She wants to give outright grants to families that have lost their homes and needs a list. Bill intends to contact others collecting funds.
The Governor's aide in charge of Emergency Management told us about the fires suppression efforts and the formation of a damage assessment team which will determine what kind of state assistance is available for families devastated by the fire. That process will be starting Tuesday, May l4. Representatives from the Environment Department and the Small Business Administration will talk to us then in more detail. 40% of the 25 structures destroyed were not insured.
An accurate assessment must have community input so Jonathan Sharpman from the Foundation and someone from lower Lama will be on hand as well as individuals from agricultural and human services. It is a detailed process but is a first step needed for review by federal agents as well. This is the sequence:
There are $l00 million in reserve in New Mexico to respond to claims against the state. The "anti-donation" clause prohibits money going directly to private hands but can be funneled through state agencies to address such issues as economic development, water, health, infrastructure (i.e. formation of a fire department), and other such public concerns.
We would do well to go through the County Commission and get our Representatives Cisneros and Gonzalez to help us, possibly with writing and submitting grant proposals. Here again assessment is indispensable. Resources in the private sector also need to be explored.
The Red Cross has 40-50 volunteers for cleanup and will provide food and medical services as well as up to a month's rent and money for immediate needs and tools. Manuel Trujillo who is the Emergency Management Coordinator in Taos County says there is funding available for the acequia, houses and vehicles. He is our contact person for county, state, and federal relief.
After a short break, we divided into groups. Eight working committees were suggested with possible consolidation if mutual interests exist. They are: "rebuilding structures," "ecology," "aid and interfacing with agencies," "public relations," "inhouse communication," "water system," "life support-meals," and "disaster\Lama Fire Department creation."
In closing, Peggy Nes advised us "not to get too lost in our loss." When we first came here there weren't any agencies ready to help us build, and today, with help from government, business, families, and friends, we can rebuild our community.
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