14:10 PM

Rebuilding after the smoke clears


In February, a fire wiped out eight businesses in downtown Madelia, Minnesota, including Brian McCabe’s agency. With support from American Family and the community, all the businesses are poised to rebuild.


It was 4 a.m. on a cold, February morning. Brian McCabe (D-58, Madelia, Minn.) woke up to a call from his mother, Joanne. Little did he know this would be a call he’d never forget. His agency – passed down from his father – and several other businesses along Main Street in the town of 2,300 were on fire.

“Madelia was under a blizzard warning. It had already snowed about ten inches when I received the call,” says Brian. “After driving through 3-foot snowdrifts, I made it to Main Street. There was nothing left of my agency.”

Jumping in to help

Six additional buildings were destroyed in the fire, to which eight nearby fire departments responded. Five of the eight impacted businesses were Brian’s customers.

Cary Radisewitz, Brian’s agency sales manager, was notified by 6 a.m. and arrived by noon. Together, Brian and Cary called in claims for the damaged businesses. CFR Claim Field Senior Adjuster Glenn Bangen and CFR Claims Large Loss Manager John Gerritsen didn’t let the winter storm stop them, either. By noon, the fire was out, and Glenn and John were on the scene to assess the damage.

Close-knit community

Brian’s parents, Tom and Joanne McCabe, started the agency in 1973 before Brian was born. Growing up, the office was Brian’s second home. The 21 W. Main St. building was built in 1895.

When Tom retired in 2014, he passed the business down to Brian. Other damaged businesses include a floral shop, Mexican restaurant, a dentist office and an upholstery shop. Brian’s agency was the oldest business on Main Street, and unfortunately, also one of the most severely damaged. But that wasn’t Brian’s main concern. His customers came first.

“Later that morning, I put on my American Family hat and coat and walked up and down Main Street to find my customers,” says Brian. “I did that at least three times a day from Wednesday to Saturday. I needed to focus on them so they could get back to business.”

Later that week, Gov. Mark Dayton visited Madelia and Brian’s agency was moved to a temporary office. Although there was an investigation, extreme weather and severe damage made it impossible to pinpoint an exact cause.

Lending a hand

“The community and American Family support has been phenomenal,” says Brian. “From the claim adjusters to other agents reaching out, and a whole host of people behind the scenes. It wasn’t until everyone reached out to help – that’s when reality hit me.”

Brian and the other business owners agreed early on that they’d all rebuild Main Street. “With the support of American Family employees and agents, my community, family and friends, I know it will only be a matter of time, and the office will be even better than it was before,” says Brian.