After Irma, Georgia Businesses Move Into Recovery Mode | WABE 90.1 FM

After Irma, Georgia Businesses Move Into Recovery Mode

Sep 11, 2017

Gov. Nathan Deal is asking people to stay indoors as Tropical Storm Irma claims lives and damages trees and buildings.

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Businesses could also be looking at big financial losses as well.

For tourism operator Phil Sellers in Savannah's historic district, Hurricane Irma has caused physical damage, but also a big financial one.

"I can't fully assess it,” Sellers said. “I know this. Being in the tour business in both cities - Del Ray Beach, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia — it's had a major impact with cancellations. When [tourists] can't come, that means refunding purchases and that puts small businesses a bit under the guns."

Sellers stayed with family members in a hotel in Orlando during Hurricane Irma. He said it may result in an economic boom for parts of Florida as people rush to help with the recovery effort, but less so for places like Savannah, when historic architecture is destroyed and can’t be recovered. Sellers said he's hopeful he will be able to recover. 

Metro Atlanta 

The city of Atlanta is encouraging people to stay indoors and telecommute when possible on Tuesday. Mayor Kasim Reed urged businesses to stay closed on Monday.

Emory University economist Tom Smith said extensive power outages could impact those who have been working from home during the storm.

"Turns out that we lose power, two, three days, that could actually impact people more than just, you know, some wind and some rain," Smith said.  

More than a million customers are without electricity across the state.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce said it's still too early to determine the full economic impact of the storm. 

Home Depot

One company seeing more business because of tropical storm Irma is Atlanta-based Home Depot.

Spokesman Stephen Holmes says the home improvement store is now restocking empty shelves in disaster areas.

"Our command center here is running and very much hopping as we support both Houston and Florida,” Holmes said. “We're basically a part of the preparation and recovery infrastructure in the communities where we have stores. After all, our associates live in those communities too. So it's really not about sales."

Home Depot said transportation has been the major challenge during the storm.

Its trucks can't move safely with greater than 39 mph winds.

"In Valdosta, we have a wind report coming out at 52 miles so those trucks but we replenish as quickly and as soon as we can," Holmes said.