When Peggy Everett got an Everbridge phone call at 2 a.m. Oct. 2, she was ready.
A resident of Mountain View Village mobile home park on CR 104 for 28 years, she had been preparing for a possible evacuation since the start of the Decker Fire in September.
The lifelong Salidan said she always packs some things in her truck every summer just in case, so she was mostly ready and had very little to do in order to get herself and her two cats, Collette and Motorboat, to safety.
She said she went around to her neighbors at Mountain Vista Village who she knew were not on the Everbridge system. She knocked on doors, including a next-door neighbor who is hard of hearing.
Into her truck she packed Collette, 9, and Motorboat, 5, along with a neighbor without a car and her dog. They headed to the shelter at Chaffee County Fairgrounds.
There Everett met everyone from Mountain Village as well as evacuees from other areas.
Everett said the shelter was ready for them, and they spent the rest of the morning hanging out and waiting for news. She went out to her truck to check on the cats every half hour.
Wallbanger’s brought them breakfast. At about 11 a.m., workers from Ark-Valley Humane Society came to offer shelter for small animals.
Everett’s cats went to Buena Vista to stay at the shelter. Later that afternoon, Everett was given a hotel room provided by Chaffee County Department of Human Services.
Everett said Mandy Kaisner and Tara Printy were very helpful in helping her get emergency housing. Printy found her an efficiency apartment after her four nights at Salida Hotel, but she was able to move back to her home Sunday instead.
After Red Cross moved operations to Salida United Methodist Church, they offered three meals a day, twice-daily fire information updates and a place to watch TV, use the internet or visit with other evacuees.
Everett said Amicas Pizza also offered them free meals.
At about 3 p.m. Sunday, some of the evacuees got the word they were allowed to return home.
Everett immediately drove up to Buena Vista, retrieved Collette and Motorboat and brought them home.
“They were scared at the shelter,” said Everett. “Collette hid behind the litter box and Motorboat wasn’t used to the noises.”
Everett said she is glad to be home, but she continues to be prepared to leave again.
She said she would have hated to lose her china cabinet, a cedar chest made by her son and a dresser made by her father.
She said firefighters and sheriff’s office staff have been great. Deputies have been around to check on things since her return.
Although she and her neighbors are back in their homes and are grateful for the help they received during their evacuation, Everett said a lot of people she talked to thought if the fire had been fought on the Saguache side early on, there wouldn’t have been a need for evacuations now.