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The Aftermath of Hurricane Ivan

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

It’s been two months since Hurricane Ivan tore through the Florida Panhandle and life is still nowhere near back to normal for tens of thousands of residents.

As the rest of the country is preparing for the holiday season, many north Florida residents are just thankful to be alive.

Cindy Gross, her son and husband have been living with her sister since Ivan struck two months ago. FEMA contractors set up a travel trailer next to where her home used to sit.

Cindy Gross says, “We didn’t think it was going to be that bad. We just took our clothes and took food and the animals and left.”

Two months later Cindy is still walking her property looking for pieces of her past. Many of those belongings now sit piled by the road. Debris has become a fact of life for Cindy and her neighbors.

“I’m going to my sister’s for Thanksgiving and I’m not really sure about Christmas. I don’t think it will be here though,” Cindy says.

Another change in Cindy’s life is she just resigned her job delivering papers for the Pensacola News Journal. Because of Ivan she lost 125 of her 550 customers on her route. The drop cut her income by a fourth.

Cindy says, “To tell you the truth, yeah, I am thankful that none of us got hurt, but it’s not even like Thanksgiving to me, this is just totally, the holidays, I’m not in the spirit for the holidays at all because of what’s happened. It’s just turned our world upside down. It’s been hard.”

Cindy and her family will have a new house sooner or later, but healing the scars of Ivan may take a lot longer.


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