Manatee expo to offer free storm preparedness ahead of hurricane season

Posted at 10:50 PM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 23:16:45-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — Six months after Hurricane Irma, businesses are still struggling to fully recover from the extensive damage it left behind. 

Manatee County leaders are taking new steps this hurricane season to help local businesses weather and recover much faster. 

Hurricane Season 2018: What you need to know to keep your family safe

Marty Orban's 100-year-old family nursery is still heavily damaged from a one-two punch of storms in 2017. 

An August tornado spun out of Tropical Storm Emily ripped off his barn's 60-foot roof. Six weeks later, Hurricane Irma destroyed 20,000 square feet of greenhouse space. 

"As far as structures and the work to replace them and to rebuild them, it was several hundred thousand dollars," said Orban. 

This month, Manatee County is hosting a Business Recovery Expo to share information with business owners on how to prepare for this year's hurricane season and natural disasters. 

The Expo will feature exhibits from local disaster recovery businesses and nonprofit organizations as well as workshop speakers from the National Weather Service and Florida Power & Light, and lessons learned from the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center.

County leaders tell ABC Action News, more than 40% of businesses impacted by natural disasters fail to reopen. 

"We're coastal Florida, it's not if — it's when," said Scott Duncan, owner of Duncan's Creative Kitchens. 

Duncan and his family spent a night in his Bradenton office after Irma swept through Manatee. 

With hurricane season just two months away, Duncan is urging his community to plan ahead. 

"We thought we had a game plan, there were holes in our game plans so we have things that we will do differently next time," said Duncan. "It only takes the next storm season and the next storm."