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Saturday / December 2.


While producing for NBC News at the Marshall Fire I met some people I can’t get out of my mind.

The first was Dave Hayes, the Louisville police chief who was soldiering on and serving the community even though his home burned to the ground.

The others were Dawn and Joel Paluch, who also lost their Louisville home, and with it, their entire family history.  Photographs, an art collection, a grand piano. Treasures passed down from generation to generation.

For all of them I could see the shock and disbelief caused by the tragedy.  Imagine losing everything in an instant.  Everything!  No longer having underwear, shoes or a pot and pan.      

As we spoke, I could see their eyes moving from the present to the past to the future and shaking it off when the thoughts got too hard to bear.  They would cry and laugh.  Grief stricken but grateful and resolved.  

The other thing I felt covering this wildfire (and hurricanes and tornados and every catastrophe Mother Nature sends our way), is the heart of people.  From first responders to those who arrive in the aftermath, to those in the community who organize fundraisers and giving. You can give here.

As we pour our hearts out for these neighbors, remember to give them hugs and help with errands.  Listen to them when they need to process or think aloud.  Invite them over for a meal now and then so things can feel normal.  Nothing is normal about their lives right now.  Your kindness helps them move forward.    

Dave, Dawn and Joel, and thousands of others, have a long journey ahead and they need our community arms around them.  Having people to lean on helps divide sorrows.  Let’s lift the spirits of those who lost so much from the fire and be part of the foundation as they build their new lives.     

Written by

Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist based in Denver, Colorado with a diverse portfolio of projects that include network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Some of her most satisfying assignments have been covering disasters, working in the slums of developing countries and telling stories of people who show great courage in the face of adversity. She has been in all 50 states and on six continents and many of her television stories and photos are posted on her website at To contact Vicky Collins directly email or tweet @vickycollins.

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