Couple rebuilding downtown
By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
Ninety days after Hurricane Ivan blew through town, leaving a path of destruction, Bobby and Debby Ellis are still waiting to reopen their downtown business, Bobby and Debby's Down to Earth True Value.
The morning after the storm, Bobby Ellis came to town to get a file with which to sharpen his chainsaw and cut a path through the driveway of the couple's Wallace home. When he got to town, he found much bigger problems than the ones he had planned to tackle that afternoon.
Their insurance company sold all of the their merchandise for salvage, and the couple has spent the past three months waiting first for the building to be repaired, and now to re-set the store. Green crates of hardware line the aisles, waiting to be unpacked and placed on shelves.
The couple has been concerned that they might lose customers after being closed for so long.
Many customers also have expressed concern about the birds, cat and squirrel who live in the store. All weathered the storm well in Wallace, the Ellises said.
This isn't the first time the couple has dealt with weather-related problems. Two months after they opened, in March of 1990, they had 24 inches of flood water in their store.
The couple also rents equipment. While they have rented some equipment in emergencies, she said, they also had to have each piece of equipment serviced to ensure that it was safe for operations.
When Ellis got the insurance settlement agreement, he called and asked his wife if she wanted to put the business back or take the opportunity to go out of business.