This Thanksgiving, many folks along the Panhandle coast are truly giving thanks for their lives, in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.
But in some cases, their homes and businesses are long gone.
Recovery is being measured in years. A travel trailer was set up on Cindy Gross’s lot last week. Right next to where her home used to be.
"I’m hoping we don’t have to be in that trailer more than about six months,” Gross explains.
Cindy and her husband are among the lucky. There are 11,000 others on the waiting list for a travel trailer and more are signing up every day. Rebuild Northwest Florida founder Buzz Richie says the number of people displaced is staggering.
“We are suspecting there are 30,000 to 40,000 people in our two counties that are displaced, that are not living in the same home they were living in before Ivan arrived,” says Rickie.
Two months after Ivan, Pensacola remains a mess. Trash is everywhere.
There are still more piles of debris than you can imagine. But the real cost is the human cost. Folks in this area are expected to live with blue roofs for the next year or two.
Local Landmark Joe Patti’s just reopened. The high water forced a compete remodeling. In the process, 75 people lost their jobs permanently.
"The people that we didn’t hire back was simply because we don’t need as many people as we had before,” comments Human Resource Manager Willa Licata.
And in three makeshift emergency housing areas, besides a dog, a boy’s best friend is a security guard. Mom TJ who didn’t want us to use her last name is out of work.
"So now I’m working on getting another job because my other job replaced me because I’ve been gone awhile,” she says.
So while many have much for which to be thankful, recovery from a summer of hurricanes is still a long way from reality.
Florida lawmakers are gathering next month for a special session that will include hurricane recovery, but top lawmakers have already said they may have to wait until spring for any sort of financial bail-out.
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