(PUNTA GORDA, Fla.) - Sunday marked the official start of the hurricane season. This year, people across Southwest Florida will remember 2004, when four storms left a trail of destruction through the Sunshine State. People in Punta Gorda are using the 10-year anniversary to mark the success of rebuilding their city.
"People were walking around like zombies," Natasha Dvorak recalled. "It was a shock. It was a complete scare."
"It was very scary and weird at the same time," said Sonia Dvorak, Natasha's mother. "Everything was so surreal that you couldn't believe what was happening."
The pair remembers Charley like it was yesterday, but when it comes to recovery, they're mostly impressed that so much was accomplished in 10 years.
"I've seen Punta Gorda change dramatically," Natasha said. "It's completely a new area and there's a lot of nice new buildings, and it's really beautified the area."
"Spiritually, you are never prepared for what happened," Sonia said. "So you just wish that it never happens again.
As hurricane season 2014 begins, the City of Punta Gorda put together a list of accomplishments since Charley. The list includes everything from emergency plans, to beautified parks.
"It gave us an opportunity, as a whole community... to say, 'We need to put something together that's going to be better than what we had before,'" said City Manager Howard Kunik.
Kunik said none of the improvements would have been possible without the determination of the community.
"They're not going to take things more lightly. Whereas before, 'Let's have a hurricane party and drink a couple margaritas,'" Natasha said. "Now I think it's, 'Let's put up the shudders, let's batten down the hatches, let's get some batteries, some water water, and maybe have a margarita afterwards.'"