Tenants of burned apartment building find closure in retrieving belongings

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OMAHA, Neb. -- More than a dozen residents of an Omaha apartment building that was ravaged by fire last October had an emotional day of finally collecting their belongings on Friday.

The Parkwest apartment structure had been off limits for liability reasons, though the tenants were concerned looters did not follow that direction.

Holly Brown and a neighbor shared a hug of relief as her belongings were retrieved from her top floor apartment.

"I'm happy," Brown said. "I felt like I have been erased. I didn't even have an ink pen from a junk drawer. I had nothing. No pictures, nothing."

She wanted old memories to make her new place feel like home.

"All my Disney stuff," Brown explained.

The Paul Davis Restoration crew helped her pack her car with containers she had stored in the apartment. They contained keepsakes and clothes that managed to survive the flames.

"Just knowing your stuff is ok but you can't have it is heartbreaking. This is going to give me a lot of closure," Brown said.

For more than three months, the former tenant could see her bike sitting on the balcony of her burned apartment. It's now back to ground level and ready to ride when the weather improves.

"I was hoping with all my heart that I could get the bike," Brown said.

The sentimental items marked a turning point for many of the displaced tenants.

Some residents said they've seen what looked like their valuables on pawn shop websites and have filed police reports.

Parkwest officials said the building was secure. The landlord hopes recovery of personal items will bring the incident to a close.