San Marco company warns others not to take the storm lightly

San Marco company warns others not to take the storm lightly

The local Flame Broiler restaurant manager reflects on the impact of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and lessons learned for the future.

Jacksonville, Florida. — San Marco is an area of ​​Jacksonville prone to flooding due to its proximity to the St. Johns River.

2.2 trillion gallons of rain entered its reservoir during Hurricane Irma.

First Coast News spoke to a San Marco man, Don Pepe, who is ready to weather any storm that comes his way. We followed her journey for over a year after her home was completely flooded by Hurricane Irma.

It was five years ago this month and Pepe says he will never forget. He says he felt helpless when Irma walked through the floodwaters of her house. He lost almost everything.

“You don’t realize how much you took hot water for granted until your two water heaters broke or you had clean clothes until you had access to those things,” Pepe said.

Pepe made some changes to restore his house. He gave a tour and demonstrated how he made his house flood proof by placing his refrigerator and water heater in elevators that could be maneuvered over flood waters.

Its washer and dryer are installed on platforms four feet off the ground.

“How high off the ground do you appreciate it. Things you don’t really care about come down here,” Pepe said.

He can advise neighbors in Jacksonville not to take storms lightly and to treat every storm with caution.

A neighboring company called Flame Broiler might agree with Pepe.

Ashley Hardin, chief executive of Flame Broilers, said the storm had taken the business offline for months.

“The whole floor was under water. So all these cabinets and everything had to be replaced. You know, the mold obviously got into the air system, so we had to completely replace the air conditioning system,” Hardin said.

The damage cost the business $90,000 and it is closed and generating no revenue.

“You know the job security of his employees if there’s no store to keep open, people don’t have time to work. We are very lucky to work for someone who truly cares about us as they take the time to move employees around to different stores to make sure they still have those hours so they can take care of their families” , Hardin said.

After weathering the storm, she has advice for other business owners.

“Unplug all your electronics, turn off your air conditioner while you’re in the store, and you can try sandbags in the door and see if they work, but if it does, the water will go away. So unplug something thing you like.

Hardin says he encourages companies to prepare and have a plan.

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