North Bend, Risen from the Ashes

Posted at 11:08 PM, Feb 04, 2016

The recent inferno at M's Pub in Omaha brought back memories for people who live in Dodge County.  Six years ago, on a cold winter night, flames ripped through Main Street in North Bend.  The huge fire destroyed six businesses in five buildings including a beauty shop, a welding company and the town's weekly newspaper, the North Bend Eagle. 

Autumn Bourek, the owner of a fire ravaged hair salon said, "It was just total devastation.  We did a lot of soul searching. Of course you go through the process, you are angry, upset and sad. "  She and her husband bought a vacant building along the same Main Street and turned it into a new salon with four styling stations. Bourek added, "Everything we did here, we did from scratch.  My husband and father-in-law did the cabinetry. We've got all our blood, sweat and tears poured into this place. "

Diane and Roch Emanuel own the welding and supply company.  Diane was in the office back in 2009 and initially thought the smoke she was seeing was somebody snow blowing.  The Emanuel's had poured their heart and soul into the company since 1984, buying it in 2007.  Flames, water and smoke would not destroy their dreams.  Diane stated, "We bought the lots where the stuff had burned down, then we added on an 85 by 120 building there. We took everything out, then rebuilt and moved everything back in. I worked from home for three years. "

The town's newspaper had been in business since 1897. Owner Nathan Arneal showed us pictures of the inferno on the wall of his new location.  Flames gutted many of the newspaper's archives.  But he made sure there was an edition in late 2009,  titled "Downtown Burns. "  Arneal said, " Went to my parents house where we moved computers to.  We were able to move computers out and had an issue ready to go the next morning."

Every business owner we spoke with said they are in a better place now than before the fire.  Their advice to businesses displaced by the M's Pub fire in the Old Market in Omaha ?  Take lots of pictures, document as much as they can and stay committed to rebuilding.  It will be a long but doable process.