Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 26, 2004

Locals recovering from storm damage

By Ryan Gueningsman

“It’s amazing what it takes your whole life to build up can be gone in 10 minutes,” said Tom Fiecke, who lives just west of Winsted, as he surveyed the damage to his shed and truck following strong straight-line winds, hail, and heavy rain April 18.

Fiecke was supposed to be hauling a load of grain last Monday morning. Instead, he had a massive clean-up effort in front of him.

A little farther down the road, closer to Winsted, Craig and Sheri Remer came home that night from their son’s basketball camp in Howard Lake, saw their two sheds and their electrical business destroyed by the storm, and were ready to turn back around.

“We pulled in the driveway and I darn near turned around and pulled back out,” Craig Remer said.

“I was so concerned with getting all of the business records and insurance stuff together and taking care of that stuff, that when we drove up the driveway, we didn’t get the whole multitude of it,” Sheri Remer said.

That night, the Winsted Fire Department sent several members out to the Remers to help them with their damaged buildings. Throughout the week, several groups, including the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA, the Holy Trinity Knights of Columbus, and many neighbors and farmers have stopped by to lend a hand.

“We’ve been so blessed with friends and family – it’s just overwhelming. It restores your faith in a small community,” she said. “People came out of nowhere. Farmers spent their days out here, without even blinking an eye. That’s what you do – you take care of the people you live with.” People also brought food to the Remers.

“We’re going to rebuild, and we’re anxious to get back to normal business, but it’s going to take some time,” Sheri Remer said. CR Electric had a crew out working at a job site April 21. Of their five vehicles, three of them had to be totaled because of damage done by the storm.

“We’re going to be alright. It’s one of those it makes you or breaks you – and we’re not breaking,” she said. “We’ll be fine. The insurance shows up and they start doing their job, and we start cleaning up what we can. Our phones have been ringing constantly, and it’s just been overwhelming.”

The Remers and their employees plan to get the rebuilding process going soon, and it could be done by June. The house was also damaged, twisted off its foundation, and the whole backside of the house lost its shingles, Sheri Remer said.

“We found out that they will be doing some major destruction of the house, so we won’t be staying here,” she said. “We have good family and lots of offers. You have to take it apart to put it back together.”

As of now, Craig and Sheri and their sons, Matthew, 8, and Justin, 11, will be staying with Craig’s sister in Winsted.

“We’ve just been overwhelmed by the love and support and we just want to thank everyone that has been here for us,” she said. “We didn’t build our business for 10 years to have it fall apart because of this – we’re stronger than that.”

Sheri Remer noted that people may have been scared to call the business after what it has gone through, but she encouraged people to still call and noted that CR Electric is “going in full force.”

“We are still open for business and going to do our best to keep up with everything,” she said.

“It makes me nervous to know that people aren’t calling,” Craig Remer said. “We’re out there in full force.”

“To think that people would call someone else would hurt us,” Sheri said. “We still have a business to run and encourage people to call.”

“Along the way, someone said five years from now, we’ll look back on this and look at how much stronger of people it made us,” Sheri Remer said.

“I was feeling kind of down,” Sheri Remer said, “and I said that Craig should just go out and get a job. Jim Koch was standing there, and he tapped me on the shoulder and said “Do you know why we’re here?”

“I said ‘I don’t know,’” Sheri said.

“We’re here because we want you to rebuild – don’t give up,” she said his answer was. “That was really neat.”

Marvin and Marietta Neumann, who live on Flower Road west of Winsted, also lost the roof of their granary, and had another building completely moved across their yard.

Jerry Bebo, who lives just up the road from the Neumanns, has several wind turbines on his property that maxed out at about 110 miles per hour.

“They go to 100 mph, and the needle was buried a little beyond that. I’m not saying it wasn’t faster than that, but that’s where the needle stuck, he said.

“It was wicked.”

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