A San Marco business warns others not to take it lightly

Flame Broiler’s local restaurant manager reviews the impact of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and lessons learned for the future.

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

During Hurricane Irma, 2.2 trillion gallons of rain fell into its watershed.

first coast news Talk to Don Pepe of San Marco, who is ready for any storms that come. We followed his journey for over a year after his home was completely submerged by Hurricane Irma.

It was this month five years ago and Pepe said he will never forget it. He said he felt helpless when Irma flooded his home. He almost lost everything.

“You don’t realize you’re taking your hot water for granted until you lose both of your water heaters, or only clean clothes until you can’t use those things,” Pepe said.

Pepe made some changes to restore his home. He tours and shows how he protects against floods by placing refrigerators and water heaters on lifts that can be rocked above floodwaters.

His washer and dryer are mounted on a platform four feet above the ground.

“How high you rate it, how high it’s off the ground. Things you don’t really care about fall here,” Pepe said.

His advice to Jacksonville neighbors is not to take it lightly and to approach every storm with caution.

A nearby business called Flame Broiler can agree with Pepe.

Flame Broiler general manager Ashley Hardin said the storm had kept the company out of business for several months.

“The whole floor was underwater. 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,” Harding said.

The losses cost the business $90,000, and because of the closure, it did not generate any revenue.

“If no stores are open, people don’t have time to work, and you know people’s job security. We’re very lucky to be working for people who really care about us because she takes the time to move staff to different stores to make sure they still have These times so they can take care of their families,” Harding said.

Weathered the storm, she offered advice to other business owners.

“Unplug all your electronics at the store, turn off your air conditioner, you can try the sandbags at the door and see if they work, but water will get through if you want. So unplug whatever you care about.”

Harding said she encouraged businesses to prepare and plan.

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