Wisconsin Spotlight | Sept 10, 2020
MADISON — It was clear from three nights of devastating riots that the bill was going to be costly.
Kenosha officials are now getting a better sense of the damage done.
During a committee meeting this week, Kenosha County Board Supervisor Terry Rose said the damage to buildings and businesses is estimated at about $50 million, according to the Kenosha News. The totals include damage to 100 businesses, as many as 40 closing down for good, Rose said.
He said it’s going to take a lot of partnerships — from the city, the county, the state and the federal government — to rebuild demolished Uptown and downtown Kenosha. Part of the public building loss includes the corrections center on 60th Street and 13th Avenue. The probation and parole facility was burned to rubble by rioters.
The damage estimate represents nearly 60 percent of Kenosha’s 2020 budget expenditures, of $86.27 million.
But the cost in American Dreams is incalculable.
“I’m 71 years old. My wife is 79. I’m going to have to start all over,” Eric Oertle told the Daily Signal.
Oertle and his wife, Pat, have owned Computer Adventure, a sales and service store in Kenosha’s Uptown district, for more than 30 years. During the brunt of the riots, following the officer-involved shooting of a black man who was being arrested in connection to a “domestic incident,” looters destroyed the business the Oertles had worked so hard for so long to build.
“They came in with baseball bats, smashed our glass cases, stole everything they could, or smashed what they didn’t steal,” Oertle told the publication. “They were going to set fire to the building like they did across the street from us, until the upstairs tenants in the apartments above us came running down the stairs and stopped them. They said, ‘We live here.’”
Mayor John Antaramian has asked Gov. Tony Evers to sign off on $30 million in state funding to assist in clean-up costs.
“Kenosha is a safe community with hardworking individuals who are mourning and facing immense tragedy and devastation,” Antaramian said in a statement. “We’re asking the state and community partners to help rebuild what was lost and to invest in programs and training for our young people.”
Evers has offered $1 million for maximum loans up $20,000 to damaged businesses. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation funding would be administered by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.
President Donald Trump while touring Kenosha earlier this month announced a federal aid package, including $4 million to help broken businesses, $1 million to assist local law enforcement, and another $42 million statewide to hire more prosecutors and assist police in holding “criminals accountable.”