Hurricane Irma's impact on small businesses cuts deep into the community

Local grocery store still without full power
Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 04:04:01-04

You don't stay in business for 27 years by turning away customers, but that's exactly what store  owner Patrick Ko is being forced to do.

"I feel bad about their food, they have children, they have whole family , I don't know how they survive right now," says Ko.

Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the Orange Avenue Grocery store in Sarasota. Eight days later, half the power is back; just enough to turn on the lights. But not enough for other important things.

"Two walk in coolers and two freezers, none of it is working right now; air conditioner, none of it is working right now," says Ko. 

The lifeline of any grocery store is its freezers, from the freezers that keep the drinks cold, to the high end freezers that keep the meat frozen. You don't have that, and you don't have a business.

In all, Ko has had to throw away $35,000 worth of meat; lost money for him and wasted food for his customers who need this neighborhood store.

"I feel like almost crying, that's not enough. I can not make words," he said.

But one thing is for certain: Irma is not going to take away what took 27 years to build.

ABC Action News put Mr. Ko in touch with FEMA and the small business administration so he can get the ball rolling on applying for a relief loan. 

We also called FPL,  they say they are now looking into why Ko's grocery store never got the full power back on.