The new home looks like it was always meant to be there, Rose Mathews says.
She loves the open floor plan, the new landscaping and the bar she and her husband, Jason, are building in the lower level of the two-story structure on Hanson Lake No. 2 in Bellevue.
“It’s everything,” she said. “It’s my dream home.”
There’s no signs now of the nightmare the couple endured after the flooding of 2019 wiped away all the work they’d done on what they had thought was the house of their dreams. Or at least it had been heading that way.
They had purchased the small ranch on the same lot in 2005 from Jason’s parents. It wasn’t perfect, but it was full of memories. They tackled projects one by one, with the biggest being the remodeling of the living space in 2013 and the outdoor landscaping, which was finished in December 2018.
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That work outside, complete with a fire pit and stream, was done by All-American Landscape Design. It was so amazing, Rose says, that it was entered in a landscape contest.
“Then in March 2019, the big flood came,” Rose said. “We had 5½ feet of water in our house.”
When Rose visited a week later, she found their new double-pane windows filled with water, which had also seeped into the walls. The refrigerator had landed atop the new island. The fountains outside were still floating in flood water from the nearby Platte River.
Rose said she felt complete disbelief.
“The grief washes over you when you realize what you are looking at and what you are facing,” she said. “It was tough. It was really tough.”
The couple had already been going through some hard times. Jason’s dad had passed away not long before. Rose was recovering from breast cancer and then her best friend found out she had ovarian cancer.
They had hoped to get some good news with the house, but the Sarpy County planning department determined otherwise. They would have to rebuild.
“I didn’t want a new house. I loved my house,” Rose said. “I wanted to repair. There was some major sentimental value.”
Rose’s friend, Elizabeth Skinner, found them an apartment while they figured out what to do. Depression settled in. They’re lake people, Rose said, and couldn’t be happy anywhere else.
Then one day, Jason told Rose there was a Parade of Homes going on, and asked her if she wanted to go look.
They checked out several builders, and chose Birchwood Homes to construct their new home. They customized it with a deck and large windows, so they can look out over the lake and out as far as the river.
All-American came back to do the landscaping again, with owners Jeff and Molly Heng even holding a small fundraiser to help them defray some of the costs.
Rose says version No. 2, which includes the fire pit, the stream and a few pavers from the original plan, is even better than the first.
“They were just the sweetest and kindest people,” she said.
They broke ground on the new home on Dec. 31, 2019, and moved in Oct. 30, 2020. There was lots of red tape involved and flood insurance far from covered costs. Everything was further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rose says she gets a sick feeling in her stomach just thinking about all of the expenses of rebuilding.
“It was very costly,” Rose said. “To put it in perspective, I felt like I paid for my house twice, 2½ times actually.”
But now they are back doing projects again. Rose jokes that they need the bar and its contents after the past few years.
It’s part of a gorgeous walk-out patio. They also love to sit out on the deck and enjoy the view.
The pain of losing their original home has faded.
“I hate to say, the first one is just a distant memory now,” Rose said.