Family displaced by fire last April plans to move in this weekendChristmas will come a little late for the Appert family of Hastings. In April, the family’s home at the intersection of 17th Street West and Pleasant Drive was destroyed by fire. Initially, they hoped they’d be back in their home by the time the holidays came around, but a number of factors slowed things down along the way, and they’re going to come up just a few days short of reaching that goal. They expect to move in this weekend.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Christmas will come a little late for the Appert family of Hastings. In April, the family’s home at the intersection of 17th Street West and Pleasant Drive was destroyed by fire. Initially, they hoped they’d be back in their home by the time the holidays came around, but a number of factors slowed things down along the way, and they’re going to come up just a few days short of reaching that goal. They expect to move in this weekend.
That said, Nolan, Jean, Caleb and Logan are all still counting their lucky stars that they weren’t home when their home went up in flames that Monday morning.
“We’re all here,” Jean Appert said. “All four of us were together. We didn’t celebrate Christmas at our house, but there will be more holidays to celebrate there, coming up.”
Once the fire department knocked the flames down, work began to rebuild. The family’s insurance company wrapped up its investigation relatively quickly. The cause was a faulty inverter box in a camper, which was parked in the driveway.
The manufacturers of the camper came out to do their own investigation, and the maker of the inverter box came along, too. They arrived on the scene about six weeks after the fire.
Eventually the home was leveled in June.
“It took way too long before it was demolished,” Jean Appert said. “It was an eyesore. We just sat there with an empty basement and a tore up lot.”
Over the summer, work was under way at a new layout for the home, and on construction plans. JHL Construction of Hastings began work to rebuild the home.
“It was a comforting feeling to see it start looking like a house again,” Appert said. “To come home from work every day and see the progress … it was amazing at how fast all the hard workers there can put a house up.”
Nolan Appert, a plumber, did much of the work himself. His brother Niles is an electrician, and he helped out, too. A host of fellow Hastings contractors were on the scene, too.
“We went all local,” Jean Appert said. “We have many people to thank in this town for all their hard work on our house. We’re very grateful.”
The new home features a more open layout than the previous one.
“It will be a lot better for gatherings,” Appert said. “You can gather there and everybody can see each other, instead of being hidden by walls.”
Since the fire, the Apperts have lived in a rental house a few blocks away. It has been nice, Jean Appert said, to be in the same area. They’ve liked the home, but they are certainly ready to be back at their own place.
“The hardest part is that you come home from a day at work, and you don’t feel at home,” she said. “I miss coming home. I just want to pull up in my driveway, come inside, take off my shoes and know this is mine, and not somebody else’s. We all just feel displaced, I guess.”
The family’s two dogs, Mikko and Brandy are both healthy. The two were rescued by Hastings firefighters. Logan Appert’s pet rabbit was rescued, too, but died the next day. That prompted Nolan Appert to promise his son he’d be able to have a house full of animals once they moved back in. That promise wasn’t forgotten by Logan.
“He did remind us of that, probably a week or so before Christmas,” Jean Appert said. “He has said that now that he has moved on from the rabbit, he’d like to have a hamster or a gerbil. I did remind him that he has a cousin that has one, and that we could go visit it any time he wants. We’ve made no decisions on what he’s going to get until we get in. We’re focusing on getting into the house, first.”