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County employee honored for EOC assistance in Spring Fire

Posted on 10/10/2018
County employee honored for EOC assistance in Spring Fire

For her assistance in helping Costilla County’s recovery efforts during the Spring Fire, Merrie Garner, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Weld County Office of Engagement (OEM) was presented with a Recognition of Services Award this week.

“Thank you for everything you did to help Costilla County,” Weld County Chair Commissioner Steve Moreno said.

A few days in to the Spring Fire disaster, Garner was requested by Costilla County to help with emergency response and recovery from June 30 to July 5, 2018. Garner helped coordinate the efforts in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which was staffed by people from local and state government, as well as a few voluntary agencies such as Red Cross. The EOC managed requests for information and resources, tried to keep everyone on the same page, and worked to anticipate consequences and needs of the community.

Facilitating communication between local government personnel in the EOC and the people who were managing the firefighting operations was Garner’s main task. She also helped the EOC management staff assist Costilla County with developing a re-entry plan for evacuated residents, writing a recovery plan, and supporting local emergency managers with finance and public health consequence management.

The Spring Fire destroyed 149 homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate for two weeks. Garner’s emergency management expertise helped Costilla County respond efficiently and effectively to the disaster as well as aid in the recovery process.

“It’s always a team effort,” Garner said. “It was my privilege and my honor to help Costilla County.”

Over a five-year tenure, Garner has strengthened Weld County’s and residents’ emergency preparedness knowledge by conducting weather spotting trainings and leading emergency preparedness trainings for the public. She also coordinates and assists with emergency management trainings such as the recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) exercise.