WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – One night, while deployed in Kuwait, Don Lobmeyer received news he never expected.
“I started getting Facebook notifications saying your house is on fire and like I can’t do nothing about it here,” Lobmeyer said.
Thousands of miles away, his home on Broadway in downtown Wichita burned in February 2019.
“The city already sent out notices four days after the fire saying you got things to fix,” the veteran recalled.
Windows were broken, along with roof, water, and smoke damage. The home is still standing, though.
Lobmeyer returned home a month later and had other issues with health to deal with along with his home.
Fast forward to April 2022, Wichita’s City Council voted to condemn his home.
“It was hard to comprehend, trying to show them it’s not that badly damaged and struggle is trying to get a hold of things they send me a list of structural engineers who would be able to help and no one was able to do it,” Lobmeyer said.
Originally, the council voted for the house to be demolished in 10 days. After Lobmeyer placed a huge sign explaining the situation in front of his home, the situation gained attention. The city council then decided to give a 60-day extension to make progress.
Offers for help soon came in.
“Maggie Ballard also got a hold of me after that. To say hey, you know, we’ve got contacted with a friend of hers, a high school classmate from North High, and he’s in construction. He’s a general contractor, and he’s a Marine, and that he would want to, you know, look in to see if he can help in any way,” he said. “Then things started rolling. You know, somebody knew somebody from Farha, which is the ones that usually do the roofs for the veterans.”
“Being a veteran myself, I know what other vets have been through, and we support one another,” said friend and volunteer Rodney Chandler.
Lobmeyer wants to see this home restored and turned into an apartment for homeless veterans.
“I’ve seen people that way. I’ve been that way myself and gone through that, and it’s just a different approach on how things are because i’s just getting worse with the homeless,” he said. “Working together, make them feel like they’re worth something, better in society itself, and feel worthwhile.”
The Wichita City Council will revisit the issue on June 14.
“Well, the roof we’ll be doing should be done,” Lobmeyer said. “As far as the plumbing, electrical, we’re going to be working on, you know, scraping the outside, getting the paint the exterior all ready to go, and getting that prepped up and painted.”
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