Hurricane Effects Linger Long After the Storm

Last year, and now it seems this year as well, so many hurricanes have developed that it's hard to remember them all.

Not so for Mac Ivy and Judd Smith, owners of Team Auto Glass in Fort Pierce, Fla. The names Frances and Jeanne are seared into their memories because both these hurricanes hit their business within three weeks of each other last September, and they're still working out of temporary facilities with power and phone service that falls below the standard of reliability we've become used to.

"We had a direct hit on both of them," Ivy explained. "When Frances hit we had our overhead door blown out and roof damage, but they were going to repair the building. But Jeanne did us in."

As Ivy tells it, the first hurricane caught the area unprepared because it had been such a long time since the last one hit. The business was shut down for two days after its hit on September 4. "There was no power or phones. We had to wait until we could get a glass delivery because our inventory was totally destroyed," Ivy said.

The business was still in temporary mode when the second hit came on September 24. "We had started cleaning up after Frances, but hadn't been able to start any repairs," Ivy said. Then came the second hit and the building was deemed unsafe. Since then, the business has been working out of a trailer with some temporary metal buildings to hold the inventory.

"Actually we were only down for about six hours after Jeanne hit," Ivy explained. "We got in the next morning and somehow the phone range and it was the city of Vero Beach. They had some emergency vehicles that they had to get out onto the road and our glass supplier was able to deliver so off we went to do the work."

But it's been temporary since then. Ivy reports that within a month they should have all the permits to rebuild and he estimates that the company will be in its new facility and everything back to normal by October. "The officials have been overwhelmed and it has been a slow process," he said. "Fortunately, we had good insurance and that helped."

Ivy said that it is hard to estimate how much business the company has lost through its ordeal since last September. "But we're still not back to our potential," he stated.

The company, which opened its doors on March 1, 1999, has annual sales of about $750,000. Auto glass accounts for approximately 80 percent of its business, with boats the second largest segment.

Photo Caption: The Team Auto Glass facility on busy U.S. Rte. 1 was thriving. Then early last September came Hurricane Frances, which did some damage to the structure, followed three weeks later by Hurricane Jeanne which made the building unsafe for use. Since then the company has been working out of temporary facilities.

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