Locals Relieved Projected Hurricane Rita Path Doesn't Include Big Bend

By: Jennifer Ryan
By: Jennifer Ryan

Inside Dan Chase's home you'll find a decorator's thumbprint, colorful furniture and an inviting atmosphere, a stark contrast from two months ago.

Dan says, "Inside had mud, re-painted, mostly cosmetic."

Hurricane Dennis flooded the property, leaving Dan with a tough task at hand, but he's almost completed it.

About 30 homes in Wakulla County were destroyed in the storm. Several must start from scratch, while others are already livable, but that's not the case for a nearby restaurant where rebuilding efforts have yet to begin.

Angelo Petrandis, who owns Angelo and Sons, says, "There's still a mess; we can't mess with it yet until we know what can do, just leaving it alone."

Angelo Petrandis is out of work. His family restaurant took a beating from Dennis, and the money to rebuild hasn't come in.

The good news is Angelo's will rebuild. Starting over is always tough, but Wakulla residents are resilient even in the middle of hurricane season.

Joe Blanchard, Wakulla Emergency Management Director, says, "They're saying I hope we don't get hit with this one or that one. It's good that Rita will pass to the south."

Blanchard says rebuilding in Wakulla County will take several years. Petrandis hopes that's not the case for his restaurant; he wants to open by the end of 2006.

Morale among local residents is high mostly because they've seen the worst case scenario when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


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