VENICE, Fla. — A Tampa Bay area community continues to bounce back after Hurricane Ian damaged the neighborhood.
Several businesses in south Sarasota County had to shut their doors after damage from the storm. Now, a popular Florida department store in Venice, which was ruined, is back open after 10 months.
"There's not much you can do when it comes to water damage other than to clean everything out and start again," Lydia Holzerland, manager of the Bealls store in Venice, said.
The store located on Tamiami Trail is abuzz again after getting a complete overhaul.
"We're excited to welcome our customers back and say hello to them again and get reacquainted. It's been some time obviously since the hurricane," Holzerland said.
Holzerland, who had moved to Venice from Missouri, was just two weeks on the job when the storm hit the area. Several employees like her were impacted but fortunately got the option to work at other Bealls locations in the area.
"It was overwhelming of course. I think being new to Florida and experiencing that and then having the level of damage that Ian brought everybody. I think we were all learning. We were all figuring out what to do, what's next and we did that together," she said.
For many private citizens as well as businesses in Venice and neighboring municipalities, rebuilding from the damage of Hurricane Ian hasn't been easy. Many of them are still being impacted by supply chain delays, as well as slow insurance payouts.
"My son-in-law had his house that was totaled and the insurance company has paid him 1/4 of what the insurance value on the house was and it's costing him three times that to rebuild it," Sylvia Duke of Venice said.
For Duke, who has lived in Venice for about 40 years and runs a jewelry store, seeing Bealls back open was a good sign and testament to the still ongoing recovery process.
She said many others, especially impacted small businesses, had to close permanently due to a lack of resources.
"After the pandemic, they lost business, and then the hurricane, they lost business, and it was just too much for small businesses to withstand," Duke said.
In March, Bealls Inc. announced it was re-branding its 68 stores in the state to "Bealls Florida." The Venice store is one of the first few to debut the new blue logo and makeover.
"We're going to be here for the long duration, and make sure customers are taken care of," Holzerland said.
Next week, the Port Charlotte store which was also shut down by Hurricane Ian will reopen to the public as well.