Businesses prepare for wrath of hurricanes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2007

With the fourth major storm of the hurricane season, Hurricane Dean, making landfall for a second time on Wednesday, area businesses are bracing for a season that has been deemed by the National Weather Service hurricane division as &8220;above average.&8221;

In addition to homes and businesses along the coast being affected by any major storm system, communities on hurricane evacuation routes can also expect to experience problems. Highway 43, which stretches from one end of Marengo County to the other, is an often-used evacuation route. Should storms occur even more than 150 miles from the county, area businesses may feel the effects of an influx of people evacuating from the storm.

Building supply stores, such as One-Stop Building Supply in Demopolis, are just one of the businesses people look to in preparation for hurricane season. Dan Harper, manager of One-Stop Building Supply, said the most common items people purchase during hurricane season are plywood, polyurethane sheeting, tarpaulins, extension chords and gasoline containers.

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When a storm is reported, Harper said it is his first instinct to order more of the commonly purchased supplies in advance to avoid a shortage in times of an emergency.

The most recent large-scale storms, Hurricane Ivan and Katrina, have also had an impact on how people prepare, Harper said.

Another area business that feels the effects of hurricanes, especially in the event of an influx of people is the hotel and lodging industry.

Jay Shows, owner of the Two Rivers Best Western Inn and Suites, said during hurricane season hotels up to 150 miles from the coast can expect to have strong occupancy rises during hurricane season.

Usually hotels see a short-term spike in occupancy of one or two days, Shows said, but if there is devastation, stays could be significantly longer.