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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 3, 201902:57 PM EST

With memories of Hurricane Irma still fresh, San Marco businesses await Dorian

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San Marco Merchants Association President Joe Carlucci says storm preparation is being taken seriously.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

San Marco businesses are preparing for the worst while hoping for best with Hurricane Dorian.

San Marco Merchants Association President Joe Carlucci said business owners are taking the storm seriously and preparing with lessons they learned from Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Homes and businesses in San Marco flooded during Hurricane Irma, causing businesses to close and many to rebuild. 

European Street Cafe flooded, closed, renovated, and reopened early in 2018. Bistro Aix did the same. Vino’s Pizza also flooded, but eventually closed permanently, as did The Kitchen on San Marco.

Most businesses there will be closed for at least part of Tuesday and all of Wednesday for the storm.

Much of San Marco is in zones A and B, which the city ordered to be evacuated. Most of the area south of Atlantic Boulevard is in Zone C. 

Because Dorian shifted east and isn’t predicted to make a direct hit on Jacksonville, some business owners’ nerves have calmed, Carlucci said, but preparation is being taken seriously.

“Especially in San Marco, people saw the real deal with Irma,” Carlucci said. “When they heard this could potentially be like Irma again, they were like OK, we’re not going to take that for granted because that was no joke.” 

Sandbags are a common form of defense, but Carlucci said he has seen business owners using marine-grade caulk on windows and doors, moving items and documents out of low-lying drawers and cabinets, and putting barriers in front of the doors to prevent water damage.

“It’s really hard to fully flood-proof your building. It’s really more or less be smart about it,” Carlucci said. “That’s the extent of what it takes to safeguard your stuff. Just thinking outside the box with things like that.”

The merchants association provided its members with resources and contact information for water mitigation companies, electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and “every single trade you would need to call,” he said.

It also distributed information from District 5 City Council member LeAnna Cumber about storm preparedness in the San Marco area she represents.

Carlucci co-owns The Carlucci Agency, a Brightway Insurance Agency.

He said it’s important for businesses to file claims as soon as possible in the event there is damage.

“Act very fast, don’t just wait,” Carlucci said. “The line gets really long, really quick. If you wait a day to file your claim, you’re going to be 3,000 spots behind where you would have been if you called a day before.”

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