Five weeks ago, fire seared an ashen seam into the heart of the Plattsmouth business district. The comeback is proving to be a challenge.
One of the productive avenues of recovery wound through the gymnasium of Plattsmouth Middle School. Students assembled there after two weeks of hard work raising $1,400 for the volunteer fire department, $1 at a time.
Eighth-grader Sierra Witherell said, "We are supporting the effort that the firefighters put in to go and help us and the community, and all of the other towns that came in to help us."
It's a way of thanking Plattsmouth firefighters and their supporting crews who, five weeks ago, spent 18 hours battling the downtown inferno.
A fence later went up, blocking Main Street. Little progress has been made to rebuild.
Plattsmouth Mayor Mike Bowman said a lack of communication between the city, insurance agencies and property owners is a major hurdle.
He said, “We are trying to make an attempt to meet with the building owners and their insurance companies so they know our situation with maintaining the safety and security of the building."
Bowman said five weeks of bad weather hasn’t helped either. There is still ice inside the building preventing investigators from getting inside and figuring out exactly what happened. That’s critical information needed before insurance claims can be processed.
The mayor said his office is planning to meet with insurance adjusters and property owners next week. On Thursday, the city met with staffers from Senator Deb Fischer's office to explore possible federal grant money to help rebuild. They are hopeful a lane of traffic will open through downtown by week's end.
While adults untangle red tape, the kids back in the gym are riding a wave of enthusiasm and optimism.
Eighth-grader Kaleb Church told us, "We just think about all those times we had down there, and everything that went on down there and how many good memories there are about this town and all the good things that have happened here."
She said that’s what makes it worth fighting for.