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Cape businesses bounce back after Irma

By Staff | Sep 15, 2017

The majority of Cape Coral businesses survived Hurricane Irma with little to no damage.

Others were not so lucky – and, unfortunately, some less than that.

Noela Chocolate & Confections, owned by Ande and Shane Grant, reopened Thursday for the first time since the storm. Manager Melissa “Cindy” Hein explained that the store sustained moderate damage.

“All the insulation, all the ceiling tiles had to be replaced, had to be dried out,” she said.

The kitchen’s ventilation hood, which leads up to and opens at the roof, was hit by the winds.

“Basically, that bent that thing all the way back, so all the water came through into the ceiling,” Hein said. “It wasn’t a roof failure, fortunately.”

It took two 16-hour days for everything to get ripped out and replaced.

“They feel very fortunate that it wasn’t anywhere where the machines were,” she said.

“We feel very lucky,” Hein added.

Packaging and retail items were lost, along with some booths and chairs.

“There was a tree in the back that broke in half and fell on the roof,” she said.

Hein thinks a small tornado may have hit because of what happened to an adjacent storefront.

Bill’s Fruit & Gift Shop, which has been operational in the Cape since 1966, lost its roof.

“It came off completely,” she said. “It got ruined inside.”

According to Hein, the owners had a moving van onsite Thursday.

“It was a mess,” she said. “It looks like a total loss.”

Another business reporting major damage is All About Bagels & More.

Co-owners Sal and Frank Cossentino shared via social media that the business had to close due to “extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.” They estimated that it would take months to repair.

“We want to express our thanks and gratitude to each and every one of you who has been extremely supportive and kind to us throughout the three years we’ve been in operation providing our customers and the community with our products and, at the same time, making wonderful friendships,” they said. “Many thanks again for your loyalty and understanding.”

They noted that all perishable food was immediately donated to The Salvation Army.

In the southwest corner of the city, Ceno Grille was operational Thursday.

“It’s our first full day back,” owner George Lukas said.

He explained that they first reopened Tuesday at 4 p.m. and were out of food by 7:45 p.m.

“No damage,” he said of the building. “Not one thing.”

According to Lukas, the complex is brick and has hurricane glass.

“All we did was barricaded the back door, shut everything down and loaded up the coolers with ice,” he said, adding that everything was later loaded into generator-powered ice boxes.

“We lost power for 12 hours,” Lukas said.

Out of the 16 stores is the complex, only one had damage.

“A sign blew off,” he said.

Since opening in 2013, his business has only faced a tornado about a year and a half ago.

“We lost power then, but we were fine,” Lukas said.

Along Pine Island Road, the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery was also in the clear.

“The building was fine,” JoAnn Elardo, co-owner of it and Big Blue Brewing, said. “We got lucky.”

Big Blue, however, was another matter.

“A little bit of roof damage,” she said, noting that there was damage to the air conditioners.

“We had some huge trees down,” Elardo added. “We didn’t get power until Wednesday afternoon.”

For those in need of water, Wicked Dolphin has filtered RO water available on site. Before the storm, the staff scrubbed and sanitized the tanks in order to store the water for those in the community.

“We have the capacity to store a couple thousand gallons,” she said.

“It’s pure drinking water,” Elardo added.

People must bring their own containers to use.

“We’re at least half down,” she said of the water supply.

The water will be available today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Noela Chocolate & Confections is at 1309 S.E. 47th Terrace.

Bill’s Fruit & Gift Shop is at 1320 S.E. 47th St.

All About Bagels & More is at 3310 Del Prado Blvd. S.

Ceno Grille is at 1715 Cape Coral Parkway W.

Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery is at 131 S.W. Third Place

Big Blue Brewing is at 4721 S.E. 10th Place.