The main strip in Gulfport is host to a slew of local businesses. O’Maddy’s, the Neptune Grill and Domain Home Accessories were all victims to Tropical Storm Debby’s wrath. Flooding and high wind gusts were hazards for staff and guests while the financial effect of closing their doors was also damaging.
Cleanup efforts from Debby have taken a toll on local businesses as well as the reality of the continuing storm season. O’Maddy’s suffered minor bumps and bruises from Debby.
Although places like O’Maddy’s experienced flooding, they say not much can be done in terms of prevention.
“We’ve had two feet of water in here before,” said Joe Gunther, Owner at O’Maddy’s. Due to the location of the establishment, Gunther said that there is no way to keep the water from coming in.
“We’re right there and we’re wide open,” added Gunther.
Gunther says they do what they can and that means storing electrical equipment away from the floor so that in the event of a storm like Debby, the damage will be manageable. For the most part, the loss came from the store having to close its doors.
Gunther said Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for the restaurant portion and closing was “a huge loss” financially. However, the bar remained open and a number of customers showed up in kayaks, canoes and even a dingy.
Other area businesses, like the Neptune Bar, are considering a game plan for hurricane season. After witnessing the effects of Debby, Manager Gus Vartsakis said that the venue is looking into getting “professional help” that may prevent flooding in the future.
Vartsakis and the staff at the Neptune prepared for Debby by placing sandbags near the openings of the establishment, but the water was persistent.
“We tried to keep the water out, but it was not really effective,” said Vartsakis. “The water still got inside.”
Like Gunther, Vartsakis said that the damage came from the lost business. The restaurant and bar closed its doors for two days while Debby crept slowly through the city.
Domain Home Accessories, which neighbors the Neptune Bar, was also flooded. However, because of the kind spirit that Gulfport’s residents possess, help was on the way in no time at all.
According to Domain’s Facebook page, “water made its way throughout the entire shop” at the Beach Blvd. store. After putting out an SOS message, a large group of helpers showed up at Domain, where they used shop vacs to soak up the water and relieve the merchandise from damage.
Domain officially reopened its doors on Wednesday, while O’Maddy’s and the Neptune Bar started back up on Tuesday.