Even though Hurricane Irene missed us in Northwestern Florida and Southwestern Georgia, we can't let our guard down yet. Restaurant and business owners along the coast are well aware of this.
"But we always get ready for hurricanes. There's no...no non-ready," says Riverside Cafe owner Stanley West.
"Just take every precaution that you can think of," says store owner and manager Joy Brown.
People living along the coast have an additional challenge than people living inland. They have to deal with storm surge. This is when the powerful hurricane winds push the ocean water ashore. It's the deadliest part of a hurricane.
West confirms how powerful storm surge can be in coastal areas. He says, "No matter how small the storm is there's always some bit of water that comes in. We could get anywhere between a foot to six inches to five foot."
After the storm passes Stan goes to a pole inside of his restaurant with a marker to show how high up the water came. The water from Dennis came up to four feet high!
When Joy Brown and Stan West think about the possibility of another hurricane coming to the Gulf Coast, they immediately think back to Hurricane Dennis in 2005. Brown says, "We were closed for two weeks just cleaning up and drying out everything."
They say they constantly keep an eye on the tropics in case something is brewing. If it looks like a storm is heading their way, they take action at least 3 days in advance. "We clean out the stock and then we raise everything up on cone clocks and put it up as high as we can get it," says West.
It's especially important now to be prepared. We're enetering the peak of hurricane season. Experts are expecting to see above normal action in the tropics this September and October.