Durango is not living up to its reputation as a generous community in the aftermath of the Gold King Mine spill into the Animas River.
Ten days after the Community Emergency Relief Fund was reopened, individuals have donated only about $2,000 toward helping employees who either lost their jobs or had their hours cut back significantly because of the spill. Businesses have done a better job of stepping forward, with First National Bank of Durango donating $5,000; Nature’s Oasis kicking in $500; La Plata Electric Association’s Found Up Foundation writing a check for $4,000; and Bank of Colorado contributing $2,500.
All told, the fund has received $14,000 as of Thursday, bringing cash on hand to $42,000.
After the 2008 Main Avenue Fire that led to the fund’s creation, the community donated close to $100,000, leaving about $28,000 in the fund so the response could be immediate for the next emergency.
To date, the Durango Business Improvement District, which is handling the requests for help, has received 35 applications and granted all but one, said Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, which is handling the financial side of the fund.
“The person turned out not to be an employee,” she said.
The group has committed to two months’ worth of assistance for people receiving awards, totalling $30,000, and applications are still coming in. Some rafting guides went to the Colorado or Salmon Rivers trying to pick up jobs there, she said, but they may be back, still needing help because of lost income.