|Wetmore Resident Ruth Roper has been named the Volunteer of the Year for Colorado’s South Central region of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Roper was honored on Wednesday, February 28, at the 2018 Colorado Emergency Management Association conference in Colorado Springs.
Roper is a volunteer firefighter with the Wetmore Volunteer Fire Department which serves Wetmore, Greenwood and eastern Custer County.
Since 2005, the area has been affected by five wildfires, most recently the 18,403-acre Junkins Fire in October of 2016. Roper is the only female firefighter in the small department, and she recently joined Custer Search and Rescue, where she has participated in hoist technician training with the Colorado Air National Guard and has participated in a number of trainings and Search and Rescue field responses in the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness area.
Roper is also an active member at the Wetmore Community Center, volunteering with recent renovations to the facility and well as other activities at the community center.
Her commitment to her community became even more evident when she began to organize many of the recovery efforts following the Junkins Fire. Not only was she a first responder during the weeks’-long fire, she assisted in organizing community meetings relating to the potential post-wildfire flash flooding, participated in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sand bag training, worked on pre-disaster mitigation efforts along Hardscrabble Creek and became the face of preparedness in her community, educating the public and insisting that they take the threat of post-wildfire flash flooding seriously and prepare their properties accordingly.
Roper then worked to bring Team Rubicon to the Wetmore community to assist with debris removal and sandbagging efforts after last year’s July 29 flash flooding along Hardscrabble Creek.