Hap Loomis and her crew have been busy since an EF-2 tornado destroyed her ice cream stand Sunday night.
C & L Dairy Sweet -- across from Lee’s Chicken on the edge of Pioneers Park -- celebrated 40 years of business in April, handing out 200 free hot dogs and chips to its customers in appreciation.
And when fans of its lemon soft serve and small-town friendliness heard the ice cream stand was gone, several started GoFundMe pages to help the business rebuild.
In less than 48 hours, the largest fund raised $3,500; less than $300 was raised by three additional accounts.
But C & L will not be open for business this year and the family has not yet made a decision about rebuilding, Chris Kliment, one of Loomis’ three daughters said Tuesday.
The business was insured.
“We have been receiving multiple messages about the GoFundMe pages,” C & L wrote on its Facebook page Monday. “We as a business have not established one, nor need one.”
Kliment clarified that message on Tuesday, after speaking to her mother.
“We discussed it today. If we have funds, we would like to use them to give back to the girls who will be out of work.”
Loomis hires several teenagers each summer. Those part-time workers, along with family members, keep the stand open seven days a week through October.
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Two of the employees sought shelter in a nearby storm cellar when the storm hit. They were uninjured, but their vehicles sustained damage, including busted windows.
“She wants them to be able to use the money to get their cars fixed.”
A Lincoln woman and customer of the ice cream stand started her GoFundMe after hearing reports of the destruction but before consulting with the owner. Donations rolled in -- $3,500 by noon Tuesday -- but some debated whether the money was needed. Some asked whether their donations would be returned.
“This will be up to the family if they want to continue to add to the fund,” the organizer said in an email, anticipating a meeting with Loomis and her family Tuesday evening.
Before that meeting, pieces of the Dairy Sweet were still being sorted into piles -- metal for recycling, trash to the landfill.
A garbage can lid and a picnic table were retrieved at Lee’s. A serving window was unearthed, still intact.
They’ll hold onto it, just in case. It’s too soon to look too far into the future, Kliment said. The family is still processing Sunday's twister.
“It’s nothing we can undo, so we’re just cleaning up.”
They’ve pulled together. And they’ve been heartened to see the community pull together to support them.
Everything from kind notes and calls, to the GoFundMe accounts, to an unexpected lunch from Russ’s Market and a surprise dinner from Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“We knew we loved our customers,” she said. “We just didn’t realize they loved us this much back.”