Rebuilding After Ivan

This week is the five-month anniversary of Hurricane Ivan striking the Florida Panhandle, and still some Thomas Drive business owners at Panama City Beach are still trying to recover.

But some say they're actually happy they are able to reopen in the same place they were doing business when the storm hit.

The days and weeks following Hurricane Ivan were like living a nightmare for families and businesses that seemed to have lost everything, but time has revealed new dreams and new hopes for the future.

Wanda Cardenas of Cardenas Seafood remembers it took seconds for an Ivan spawned tornado to rip their dreams apart.

"Your stomach just dropped out, just terrible!" she says.

Five months later the business is finally reopening its doors.

"It's been very stressful. I rather [would] have been working than doing all this because it's easier to go from the bottom up than to go back and do reconstruction."

You may remember the Cardenas family. They had just opened a new seafood market on Thomas Drive, which doubled as their home. Then Ivan struck.

With no place to live or work the Cardenas’ thought they had hit rock bottom, but their insurance company pulled through and now they're back on track.

"We can't wait to see our customers. We see them all over town and they say 'when are you going to open?' February 18th. 'All right,’ and we all laugh and hug."

The Cardenas' neighbor wasn't as lucky when it comes to an insurance claim. Jim Krawczynski, the owner of the blue roof Waffle Shop, has taken it upon himself to shell out thousands of dollars to rebuild the popular cafe.

“I'm thrilled. We're finally getting something done. It's taken a long time, but finally."

Both businesses are still doing significant repair work, but experts say the buildings are architecturally sound and ready for customers. "They can't wait. They're just thrilled."

The Cardenas’ plan to reopen their seafood market this Friday, February 18. The Blue Roof Waffle Shop is expected to reopen in other two weeks.


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