Yarnell discusses phase one of building back

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

YARNELL, Ariz. -- Out of ashes and burned soil, Jerry Florman chooses optimism.

“This is all new growth; little grasses, little weeds,” Florman pointed out. “Oh, tomato plants!”

Florman, who lost the home she built with her husband in the Yarnell Hill Fire, is now making plans to rebuild.

“You can see little lines he’s drawn out, trying to get an idea of what changes we want to make,” she said.

Florman’s is one of about 133 homes destroyed in late June, according to the Division of Emergency Management.  It’s estimated about 10 percent of the primary residences which burned were without insurance.

Those homes will take first priority in phase one of the rebuild.  Faith based organizations will help the uninsured build back.  Guidelines were discussed during a community meeting Tuesday night, the first since Arizona was denied federal funding for the victims in the aftermath of the disaster.

“It’s not going to slow them down,” said Daniel Porth, Human Services Branch Director of the Division of Emergency Management.

“We’d love to get resources from the federal government. We certainly hope they’ll reconsider, but at this point, it’s not going to slow down what’s going on here.”

It’s not known whether Governor Jan Brewer will appeal the decision. Arizona House leaders sent President Obama and FEMA a letter urging them to reconsider.

Rebuilding could take two or three years, according to community leaders, but the emotional wounds of losing 19 will never heal.

“My husband and I lost our homes, but we lost nothing compared to those 19 young men and their families,” said June Simmons, who lost three properties in the fire.

“It’s a horrendous trauma for all of us,” said Jerry Florman. “We’ve been hit by a Mac truck that then backed up and ran us over again.

Florman says she still cries every day but takes pride in how the community is rising from the devastation.

“We’ve been told over and over again how unique our community is in communities they have dealt with in the midst of disaster,” said Florman. “Yarnell is organized, loving taking the high road, every time they can.”