“You get knocked down, and it hurts, and you cry, and you struggle, and you look around and you see a few other people that are in the same place and so you hug for a minute, and then you help each other stand up, dust each other off, wipe away the tears, and say, ‘Let me help you.’”
How have stressful experiences typically affected you?
After a week of displacement, stress, and worry, the evacuation was lifted in stages. Not everyone had homes to return to. Survivors of the fire met weekly to support each other as they made plans for the future. Los Alamos grieved for what was lost in the fire: homes, photographs, keepsakes, and our forest. The loss of the tall trees and shady trails led some to move away from Los Alamos.
We began the work of rebuilding a community. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) brought 114 mobile homes into a new neighborhood quickly named FEMAville. Taking responsibility for a federally-ignited wildfire, Congress set aside money for New Mexicans affected by the Cerro Grande Fire. Survivors found comfort and support in programs organized by local groups like Project Recovery Crisis Counseling and the Northern New Mexico Interfaith Recovery Network. Facing an uncertain present, our community began the work of planning for our future.
Sixty-two families from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church lost their homes in the fire. In November of 2000, the church community gave these families a copy of this cookbook, ornaments, a nativity, and other gifts to support their Christmas celebrations. Gift of Alice Mann. LAHS Archives, 2005.018. Los Alamos Historical Society.
Header photo by Vint Miller, courtesy Los Alamos County.
Were you here for the Cerro Grande Fire? Click here to share your story with us and to read stories of resilience from friends and neighbors.
When the Los Alamos History Museum reopens, join us in the Guest Cottage to see Resilience and Regrowth in person. The museum exhibit has the space to share even more photographs, artifacts, and personal stories.
Thank you for your donations that made this exhibit possible!
Nancy and John Bartlit
Stephen A. Becker
Brent and Robyn Collom
John S. Hendricks
Hans and Ryn Hermann
Linda and Bob Hill
Mary Pat Kraemer
Robert C. Moore
Ben and Ruth Neal
Deborah and Rick Reiss
John and Kit Ruminer
Santa Fe New Mexican
Georgia and Gerry Strickfaden
Cherie and Andy Trottier
Roger Waterman and Emily McGay
In creating this online exhibit, the Los Alamos Historical Society is supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New Mexico Humanities Council.