IN already-tough retail conditions, some of Kiama's businesses will be accounting for the cost of the February tornado in their balance sheets.
However, the worst hit of them, Harbourside Brighton owner Rhonda Thistle, said Kiama was well and truly open for business.
"When you have a business, people just expect you to bounce back and trying to bounce back in economic uncertainty is very difficult," she said.
"The [Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival] gave the town the morale boost it needed and hopefully we're all on a better track."
The Harbourside Brighton restaurant was flooded on February 24 when an outside awning collapsed in the strong winds and rain poured into the restaurant.
Ms Thistle shed tears as she recounted finding the bar area five centimetres deep in water and half the dining area's carpet soaked.
"Driving down the freeway seeing the devastation, seeing the household devastation, and then coming to the restaurant and finding it just flooded was emotionally draining," Ms Thistle said.
Although forced to close until the following Friday while she and senior staff Eric and Nicole George cleaned up, she said it could have been worse.
She believed the week after her re-opening was 60 per cent down on her usual trade.
Most businesses lost a full day's trade on the Sunday, with the loss of food stock running into thousands of dollars due to a 12-hour power cut.
Some businesses were back to normal almost immediately, but others had a slower recovery.
Saltwater Cafe owners Patrick and Bronwyn Murphy had a five-day lull after the tornado, while Harbour View Thai chef Jet Namkeaw said business was down about 20 per cent for a week afterwards.
"People were warned off Kiama ... a lot of radio [coverage] said you couldn't get in so they stayed away," Mr Murphy said.
"Though there is more to it than keeping the businesses full - it's about public safety."
Bruce and Shirley Johnston opened Kiama Newsagency on the Sunday to sell newspapers and cigarettes.
"There were definitely fewer people because a lot of locals were preoccupied with the clean-up," Mr Johnston said.