(Alexandria, MN) One of the worst days in the lives of Andy and Cammie Rassat has provided the couple, who own several of the buildings destroyed in Tuesday's downtown Alexandria fire, an opportunity for gratefulness.  The business that drew them to 506 Broadway Street was one that Cammie started with her new husband almost 24 years ago.  The newlyweds married in April of 1996 and set out on an adventure together that started when they opened Raapers in August of that year.

Shortly before 4:30am Tuesday a fire began, somewhere within the four buildings on the north end of the 500 block of Broadway.  The fire eventually raged through all four buildings, including their beloved Raapers Eatery and Ale. 

The couple shared part of their story on Thursday's Openline Program.  Their goal was to make sure the public knew how much they appreciate all of the support, gestures and kind words.  The following is audio from that program co-hosted by Joe Korkowski and Patty Wicken.

Cammie says she was most heartbroken by the personal stories and tragedies that are unfolding as they look back.  One of their employees was hired back on September 11th, 2001, with the end of her employment a result of Tuesday's fire.  One of their eight tenants living in an upstairs apartment was a huge collector.  She fears he doesn't have insurance to cover the losses.  On a happier note, one of his collections was a unique coin collection, which was recovered by the fire department.  She adds that Raapers has catering obligations that she wants to somehow meet.  Eight places with professional kitchens have offered to allow them their space to prepare the food.  Andy says they now have the building back from the city and consequently have fenced off the area to keep anyone from getting hurt.  Insurance adjusters will be going over the buildings in the coming days and that will play a part in any future plans and time tables.   

DONATION FUND SET UP FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY THE FIRE   (Alexandria, MN, February 27, 2020) – Long-term recovery is underway for the city of Alexandria and those impacted by the downtown fire Tuesday, February 25.   The American Red Cross opened 22 cases for 30 individuals. Case workers are assisting the individuals who lost their apartment homes in the fire with housing, food and clothing needs.   Business owners and nonprofits pitched in from the very beginning to assist the displaced residents. City leaders are   grateful for all of their efforts. The city also recognizes there are residents and additional businesses that want to know how they can be of further assistance.   Today, we can announce that the Alexandria Area Community Foundation will accept financial contributions at   http://www.communitygiving.org/donate/alexandria-response-fund   Those funds will be distributed through West Central MN Communities Action, Inc. They are located at 503 Hawthorne Street, lower level, Alexandria or by phone at 320.304.3458. They will work with individuals affected by the fire. If you or someone you know is need of assistance, please contact them directly.

Checks can be sent to AACF c/o CommunityGiving 101 7th Ave S., Suite 100 Saint Cloud, MN 56301. Please specify Alexandria Response Fund on the memo line. Gifts made to the fund will initially be focused on assisting people impacted by the recent fire in downtown Alexandria. The fund will also be available in the future to assist with other potential disasters or catastrophic events.

Holly Witt, Executive Director of AACF, stated "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic fire in downtown Alexandria on Tuesday and we wanted to help provide funding to support those impacted by the disaster. Generous donors who want to help can make donations to the Alexandria Response Fund". Locally, AACF, Ameriprise Financial and Bell Bank will each contribute a starter gift of $5,000 to the Alexandria Response Fund. Josh Tatge , Board Chair of AACF, commented "Those impacted by this tragedy are on everyone's minds. Everywhere you go, people are talking about what happened and looking for ways to help. We're truly blessed to live where we do. The efforts by so many individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations coming together to lend a hand is a great reminder of that. Together, as a COMMUNITY, we will get through this. We are Alexandria Strong!".

  “Thank you again to everyone who has donated food, water and coffee and worked long hours to help the impacted residents, business owners and first responders,” said Sara Carlson, Mayor of Alexandria. “We have a long road ahead and the city will do its best to keep residents and visitors informed of our progress.”