TS Hermine will be costly, but predicting how hard Tampa Bay's economy will get hit is tough

Posted at 5:59 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 18:59:52-04

The phone inside Westshore Pizza in South Tampa is continuously ringing.

"Will this be pickup or delivery?" Lamar, who works the cash register, says to a caller.

This spike in calls is expected to continue through Friday as Tropical Storm Hermine makes landfall in the Bay.

"Storms, huge surge in sales," said Rebekah Cherry, the assistant to the pizza shop's owner.

According to Cherry, on a typical night they receive anywhere from 200-250 calls for food.  However, they're expecting 350 orders. The bulk will be deliveries.

They anticipate so many deliveries they are staffing more delivery drivers and cooks.

Cherry estimates they will bring in an additional $1,000 a night.

"It can add up over four, five days," she said.

While it would seem there is a silver lining for some business when storms push through the area, economists say there are really no winners.

"Natural disasters destroy, they don't promote prosperity," said Dr. Abigail Blanco, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Tampa.

Blanco told ABC Action News an economic study of all the hurricanes that have hit the United States over the past 35 years revealed it cost the country $400 billion.

She pointed to Hurricane Katrina which came with a $100 billion price tag and Hurricane Sandy which cost $70 billion.

"When you see certain industries doing well it is important to know that kind of income is not something they're going to be sustaining," Blanco added.

This is good news for Bruce D'Amico, a barber at 4 Mankind Barbershop, off South Dale Mabry.

He says 90 percent of their business is based of appointments.

Now with the storm, there are a lot of cancelations.

"If we don't work, we don't make money," he explained.

The shop also suffers damage from flooding.

Dale Mabry or "The River Mabry" as D'Amico calls it, floods with heavy rains.

Those waters then spill into the parking lot and when people drive their cars through the water, the waves splash against the barbershop door and seep inside.

This is why the front door is now barricaded with sandbags.

"We don't have a no wake zone here but we should," D'Amico said while smiling.

D'Amico says clients are good about rescheduling so it is likely any money lost during the storm will be recovered next week.

"We definitely get the short end of Mother Nature's stick," he added.