Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

This Is Hanover, These People are the Unsung Heroes


April 25, 2018

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

The 117 Fire surrounded the Hanover Church in Hanover burning everything around it, stopping at the boundary of the the church property. Local resident Patty Graf said, "It really was like the parting of the Red Sea and God works miracles and I believe that." She added that the tall trees near the church were spared too.

At a time that the outside "world" would love to give the impression that America is totally divided, and each person is unwilling to step out and help another, something happens to prove "them" wrong.

The 117 fire threatened hundreds of families, pets, livestock, homes and outbuildings. As the fire swept across the plains and approached the Hanover community, there were feelings of being torn in pieces, needing to be in several places at once with no way to accomplish this. I had to get to my parents. They are on oxygen and in the evacuation zone. My daughter's home was also, and she was on her honeymoon. My sister's house and ours, all in the zone.

A neighbor pulled into my driveway and said her husband was gone and she needed help evacuating their horses, and then there was the church. My father, and so many others, had worked so hard on our new addition. It was almost done. Our neighbor was closer to the fire than we were. The church was in the direct line of the fire. There was a wind blowing in our direction.

A feeling of overwhelming fear was calmed as I prayed that God would show me what to do. How can I protect our place, help my family, neighbors, and church? There were horse trailers driving north up our road, along with a lot of vehicles.

What I heard and saw during the next several hours and days was nothing short of inspiring. Neighbors were helping neighbors. People were checking on the elderly and those without vehicles. People were watering down the church property. Strangers were offering trailers to transport livestock. People opened their homes for those evacuated. The fire rushed through so fast. Within hours it had devasted the lives of many on the prairie. Some lost homes, many lost livestock, but no lives were lost because neighbor cared about neighbor, people helped those they knew, and many they didn't.

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Mile marker 117 on northbound I-25, the site near the starting point of the #117 fire that caused devastation in the Hanover community in southeastern El Paso County.

I saw tears in the eyes of people having to put their livestock down due to burns, but they quickly turned to see who else needed their help. I had tears in my eyes as I went to the church and saw that the fire had parted around it. Miracles do happen. These people are the unsung heroes. The ones who, while hurting themselves, went to help others hurting and in danger. This is our community. This is Hanover.

People are now offering to provide food, clothing, tools, equipment, and labor to help those affected by the fire. The Hanover Fire Department, and all departments that responded to help, there are no words of thanks. You saved so many lives and so many homes. Thank you Chief Tatum and all the others! We will not listen to the outside world telling us that all is bad, and no one cares. It's a lie. This disaster, as with many others, reminds us that within most of us is the desire to help others, care about our neighbors and show that this is what America truly is. A majority of people that believe in God, Country, Family, Friends, Neighbors, Community – a willingness to give of oneself to help another. May God bless this community as we rebuild.


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