Locals remember recovering from disaster

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The pictures of the destruction hit home for those who have lived through similar ordeals. It's been nearly nine years since Hurricane Charley spawned tornadoes which ripped through the Suncoast causing more than $3 billion dollars in damage. Tuesday we talked to some who know all too well about having their home town turned upside down.

Darrell Green lived through Charley and the aftermath. "It was a mess. An absolute mess."

For a time Darrell says every disaster on the screen brought him back."Two or three years maybe four after Charley you would see something like that on TV and it would bring back memories."

Most don't forget. "Anytime you see a disaster that is wind-borne in nature it certainly does harken back to the days of Charley." Emergency Management Chief Wayne Sallade says as far as the types of storms the Oklahoma twister and what Charley brought are of course different."Nowhere did we have the violent winds of that. Maybe a little in downtown Punta Gorda where the winds reaches 190 miles per hour but that was across a very wide swath of about 40 miles."

What is similar is what's left and where to begin. He knows how important a roll recovery groups like the Red Cross are initially playing. "Hugely, without them we would not have done what we did."

In the days, months, and years to follow Sallade says the real work will begin. With the initial estimates Charley will probably still turn out to have caused more damage. "You hear about the massive destruction they occurred and the estimates of a billion to a billion and half. We had $3.2 billion dollars just in Charlotte County. It took us a good five years."

Some homes even longer says Green. "We got one four blocks away they just started working on three weeks ago." As well as empty lots where a home once stood like the one across from the Greens.

Material items are one thing but getting over the loss of life is harder to recover from. Sallade says four people perished as a direct result of Charley. In the following days and weeks a dozen deaths had some sort of connection. Thoughts being replayed again for those like Darrell are much harder to forget."Makes your tears well up if you get to thinking about it."

Sallade says being able to prepare saved many lives. A good reminder as hurricane season is set to begin in less than two weeks.