More than a month after historic amounts of rainfall deluged the state of Colorado, thousands of survivors are still living the ravages of the natural disaster, including some 300 undocumented families who count among the most affected.
Although it is difficult to know exactly how many Hispanics were affected by the floods in northern Colorado, it is believed that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants lived in the mobile home parks that were destroyed by the flooding in Evans, Milliken, Windsor and Greeley.
As time passes, the situation gets worse as the few resources they had are exhausted, as is the help available to them from friends and family. Aid from the government is unavailable, and approaching non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross can often be seen as dangerous to this population that lives in constant fear of deportation.
Aracely Garcia, business manager at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Greeley, told the DCR that many of these undocumented migrants are turning to the Church, the only institution they trust.
“There are many people who have lost their homes, and they hadn’t finished paying them off yet; now they have to continue paying on them. There are also those seeking help to pay their monthly bills. There are also many who lost absolutely everything and need the very basic items such as food and clothing. These people prefer to turn to their parish than to other organizations,” she added.
Larry Smith, president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, explained that immigrants devastated by the flooding in Colorado depend on the Church for help, more than any other organization, “because they trust that Catholic Charities will support their needs, regardless of their legal status, race or beliefs.”
Initially, Charities opened shelters for the victims, as well as distribution centers to hand out emergency supplies and necessities such as food and water. Currently, those affected by the flooding continue to receive assistance from Catholic Charities and the various parishes in the area, but the help is focused on more long-term relief. “We are not only handing out coats, shoes and blankets, but also financial assistance and gift cards that can be used in supermarkets,” said Smith.
“It is very important,” he continued, “to find long-term solutions for those who are left with nothing.”
Smith added that it is now crucial to help the homeless find housing, and the unemployed to find work. Additionally, they will need “psychological and spiritual support.”
“These survivors need our help,” he said. “They are survivors that need to get back on their feet and get on with their lives. This is an opportunity to show our Christian spirit through the help and concern for our neighbor.”
Smith encouraged the community to join in this campaign by either volunteering or through donations. For more information, visit www.ccdenver.org.