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Cautious optimism replaces fear
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SEMINOLE – With weather forecasters predicting Hurricane Ivan will skirt Tampa Bay, residents seemed to breathe a small, collective sigh of relief. Once again, they tried returning to normal routines even though Pinellas County schools were closed on Monday.

At the Home Depot store on Park Boulevard near Seminole Boulevard, the parking lot was still packed with cars and contractors early Monday morning. The plywood was ample, duct tape lined shelves and batteries were ready for the picking. In anticipation of storm damage, clean-up supplies were abundant, too.

Many customers were buying that plywood and storm supplies, but for the most part, general home improvement and repair tasks topped their shopping lists.

Sia and Michael Bishara of Largo, cruised the aisles looking for closet white wire racks to add an extra touch of organization to their new town home in Seminole Palms.

“We just moved in. We don’t need to do anything to prepare,” said Mrs. Bishara. “The shutters are up already.”

She added that she and her husband were particularly glad that the homes had been built to hurricane specifications.

“We are so grateful for that,” Bishara said. “We are very lucky.”

Jane Blain of Seminole, spent a few minutes Monday at Home Depot checking out the sparkling chandeliers in the lighting department. She was planning to do some home decorating and was checking out different styles and costs.

“We’ve already done what we had to do around our home,” said Blain.

She added that this weekend was spent boarding up and preparing her mother’s home near 54th Avenue North and Seminole Boulevard.

“That’s where we will go if things get bad,” said Blain. “We’ve done everything we can. Now, we just have to wait it out.”

At least one shopper didn’t feel threatened by Hurricane Ivan, or any other such storm for that matter.

“I’ve lived here since 1962,” said Richard Malzahn of Seminole. “I’m not worried. A storm like that has never hit here and never will.”

Malzahn believes the topography of the area prevents a direct hurricane hit in Tampa Bay.

“We don’t need to worry – ever,” he said.

Malzahn spent his Home Depot time looking for faucet fixtures for an apartment repair.

Weather predictions and attitudes toward Hurricane Ivan aside, the atmosphere at the Home Depot seemed calmer in contrast to the hurried, anxious preparations taking place just a few days earlier.
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