A San Marco company warns others not to take the storm lightly

A local restaurant manager from Flame Broiler takes a look at the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and lessons for the future.

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

During Hurricane Irma, 2.2 trillion gallons of rain went into the watershed.

First Coast News Talk to a man from San Marco, Don Pepe, who is prepared for any storm that comes his way. We followed his journey for more than a year after his home was completely submerged in Hurricane Irma.

This month was five years ago and Pepe says he will never forget. He says he felt helpless when Irma came by flooding his house. I have lost almost everything.

“You don’t realize how much hot water you take for granted until you lose the water heaters, or just put on clean clothes so you can’t reach these things,” Bibi said.

Bibi made some changes to restore his home. He gave a tour and showed how he protects his home from flooding by placing his refrigerator and hot water heater in lifts that can be moved over flood waters.

The washer and dryer were installed on raised platforms four feet off the floor.

“How much you appreciate it is how high it is off the ground. Things you don’t really care about come down here,” Bebe said.

The advice he could give Jacksonville’s neighbors is not to take storms lightly and treat each storm with caution.

A nearby company called Flame Broiler could agree with Pepe.

Ashley Harden, Flame Broiler’s general manager, says the storm has put the business out of business for months.

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

The damage cost the project $90,000 and since its closure it has not generated any income.

“You know the job security of their people if there is no store opening then there are no opening hours for people. We are very fortunate to work with someone who really cares about us because she has spent the time taking employees to different stores making sure they still have those hours so they can take care of Captivate them,” Harden said.

Having weathered the storm, she has tips for other business owners.

“Unplug all your electronics, turn off the air conditioner during the store, you can try sandbags at the door and see if they work, but the water will run through if it wants to. So unplug anything you care about.”

Hardin says she encourages companies to prepare and make a plan.

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