ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Some business owners along the water are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best when it comes to Irma. One business is taking lessons from Matthew as it prepares for another major storm.
Some of the hardest hit businesses on the water in St. Johns County are still recovering from Matthew. Bernard Deraad, the owner of Caps on the Water, said he is making some changes to lessen the potential blow of Irma.
Caps looks like new, the floor has been retiled. Hurricane Matthew took a toll on the business that is known for its open layout and outdoor seating.
“After we came back on the island, we found complete devastation. Flooding three feet underwater, we had to start cleaning up,” said Deraad.
In a video captured by one of Caps’ managers during Matthew, the street and parking lot disappear under flood waters. The dock was torn apart, many pieces floating down the river and kitchen equipment was displaced.
“Flooding water was the big damage here with Matthew. We fear with Irma it’s going to be the wind, not so much the water,” said Deraad.
It took several weeks for cleanup and repairs before Caps opened its doors. On the water, what is left of the dock is still visible, and it can be seen what was swept away. Deraad said that the only thing the business is able to do is prepare and learn their lessons from Matthew.
Deraad said he was lucky the restaurant had great insurance, but plans to do more this time before Irma’s potential impact. He said all business owners should record the serial numbers and take photos of all equipment before a storm hits. He said it will better help with replacement and reimbursement from insurance companies.
Insurance claims were one of the biggest issues faced by restaurant owners affected by Matthew. Deraad hopes people will take his advice to document everything, so that businesses can quickly recover and reopen if Irma hits our area.