Maquoketa Offers Prophetstown Recovery Blueprint - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Maquoketa Offers Prophetstown Recovery Blueprint


How does a city move forward after a devastating fire wipes out part of a downtown? People in Maquoketa know something about that; having been through their own massive fire five years ago.

"Every day you get up and go to work and all of a sudden you don't have that," said Karen Breitbach. "And you're worried about how you're going to feed your family because me and my husband both work in our business."
Maquoketa business owner Karen Breitbach knows the feeling of helplessness that a devastating fire leaves behind.

"It jumped from building to building on top," said Breitbach. "It took about a half an hour for my building to burn down."

More than 5 years after a fire ripped through Maquoketa's downtown, green space sits where several businesses used to and since then only one of those businesses has been able to come back.

Maquoketa Mayor Don Schwenker says it was two years before the city could even begin to clean up after the fire. All said and done, the blaze cost the city $575-thousand and its identity. 

"We lost several historic buildings, we lost businesses, we lost a lot of the economic drive for the downtown," said Schwenker.
But there is hope for the business owners of Prophetstown. Six months after the blaze that leveled four Maquoketa businesses, Breitbach was able to open hers back up.

"It was a struggle but now we're fine. We had wonderful community support. Without them we wouldn't have made it," said Breitbach.
Karen and the mayor have advice for the city of Prophetstown in its time of need; work quickly to move on. 

"Don't let the fire define them. But look forward to what they could redefine their downtown as," said Breitbach.


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