Fearing that looters might descend on their hurricane-ravished business, Roberto and Ana Hernandez have moved into a van parked outside their Kissimmee auto-repair shop.
"We have to watch over our property," said Roberto Hernandez, 43. "You can't measure the effort we have put into getting this business off the ground. It's been a lifetime of work."
Hurricane Charley's powerful winds tore through their Master's Collision Body Shop on East Jackson Street, ripping off all six of its 14-foot-tall garage doors and exposing thousands of dollars of equipment and inventory to the elements and would-be vandals.
"Just after the winds had died down, the neighbor across the street called us to let us know about the damage," he said. "He told us to head over here right away because he was seeing some people pulling up to the business and checking out what was inside."
The couple, who have four children, say they plan on staying in the van until power is restored and the doors are fixed -- however long that takes.
"Sleeping out here is very uncomfortable. The mosquitoes, the heat and the lack of basic utilities make it very difficult," said 43-year-old Ana Hernandez. "It's nothing like sleeping in your own bed."
They called their insurance company, Universal Underwriters Insurance Co. in Orlando, on Sunday. But they admit that they don't fully understand their policy and have little idea about how much of the damage will be covered.
The cost to fix the doors alone is thought to be at least $13,000. Adjusters from Universal dropped by Wednesday to survey the damage and authorize the hiring of someone to fix the doors. But Roberto Hernandez said that could take another two weeks.
They hope that power will be restored sooner than that, because without it, they can't get back to work.
"We know that we won't produce any money this week, but the bills keep coming," Ana Hernandez said. "We hope that we will have power next week, so that we can start working and be able to catch up."
Through it all the couple, originally from El Salvador, have maintained a positive attitude. They are grateful for their health and the support they have received from neighbors and family.
"This whole thing has brought our family closer together," she said. "We are very proud of how our kids have gone as far as forgetting about their own needs as children to respond to the needs of the family and what we need to do to get ahead."
Devout Catholics, the Hernandezes said that they have never lost their faith.
"We have loyal customers and have faith in God that he will take care of us," Roberto Hernandez said.
"We will be OK."
Dorimar Mercado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 407-420-6063.