Nearly six months after the Nov. 30 earthquake rocked Southcentral Alaska, many business owners are still on the journey to getting their lives back to normal.

The community of Eagle River was one of the hardest hit areas in the state. Garcia's Cantina and Café is the only business in the Valley River Office Center that survived. They were back open for business a week after the natural disaster hit.

"I mean it wasn't cheap," owner Ronn Laurin said. "We were able to get open within a week, as soon as the city and the engineers said ‘hey, the building’s sound,’ we were able to occupy, get everything fixed up.”

According to Garcia’s owner Ronn Laurin, the owners of the center had a few different options after the earthquake and one of them was to tear down the building.

"If they made that decision, they were going to give us six months to find something else," he said.

Moving to another location would have cost Garcia's over $1 million, which would have put the business “in the hole for a long time,” Garcia's co-owner Joel Rivas said.

The center’s owners eventually decided not to tear down the building, opting to fix it instead. The decision to make the necessary repairs kept Garcia’s in the building.

Other business owners were not as fortunate. Family therapist Lori Patin's office above Wells Fargo was completely destroyed, causing her to relocate.

"My window was in the parking lot and everything was smashed to smithereens," she said.

Finding a new office space was no easy task, but Patin said the help of the Eagle River community was fantastic. She was able to find a temporary space quickly, but finding a permanent space took months.

“I’m now paying twice as much as I used to, on my own, and that’s huge,” she said.

Patin is finally settled into her new office space and, like the staff at Garcia's and many other businesses, is moving forward.

Many businesses in the area are still offline. McDonald's is closed and will be for some time, although the sign underneath the golden arches says they'll be back. Municipality offices, the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and the Chugiak-Eagle River Library are also offline for the foreseeable future.

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