by Logan Gruber
Tragedy strikes, and a community pulls together. It’s a familiar script in many ways, but the details are always different; and for those affected, it’s always personal.
Early in the morning on Nov. 22, the Theisen family woke to their barn burning down. Firefighters responded, but in the end it was a total loss. Todd and Sarah Theisen estimate the damage will be near $600,000. But while they may know the cost, they might never know the cause.
“I was a little disappointed,” Todd said in a Newsleader interview on Monday. “I wanted to figure it out.”
Todd said the fire investigator told him he likely would not be able to determine the cause, due to the damage that occurred during the fight to save the building.
The debris on the ground was two feet thick, Todd said. It was frozen to the ground from all the water that was used to fight the fire.
But what they lost wasn’t just a barn. The Theisens had built two businesses – TMT Integrity Flooring and TMT Tree Service – along with their sustainable farm, Creekwood Acres on the property southwest of St. Joseph, and most of the equipment for those businesses was stored inside the barn. The Theisens had built those businesses during the course of 30 years – 11 of those years on this property.
“It’s gonna be a long road,” Todd said, regarding regaining the equipment needed to run the businesses. “We had business insurance on a lot of the bigger items, and they were insured for the amount we paid for them…but everything’s gone up since we purchased them originally.”
For the smaller tools and supplies, Todd says he has what he needs to get started. His first day back on the job was Monday. He’s working out of his garage for the moment.
As for the barn, Todd says they had a bid to rebuild the structure, and it was about $190,000. You can imagine he was a bit overwhelmed.
Luckily, shortly after the fire, a bit of magic happened.
“It started with one post by my wife’s friend, then went viral,” Todd explained.
Through social media, friends, family, former classmates and even strangers are helping organize a benefit for the Theisens.
Todd says food has been donated, along with auction items, and there will be a bake sale and a big breakfast.
“Social media has been pretty powerful with this.”
Many emails and condolences have also been sent to the family, along with job offers.
“It’s been a great show of support,” Todd said. “Thank you to those who have reached out, whether it was a hug or smile, or donation. It’s amazing how many people have reached out in one form or another.”
If you would like to donate to the Theisen family as they recover from the effects of the fire, you can come to the brunch/silent auction/bake sale from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21 at Salem Lutheran Church, 90 Riverside Drive SE, St. Cloud, or, you can head to their online donation page at jumpinsites.com/Apollo84/theisen.html.