With millions in Florida without power after Hurricane Irma, many Jacksonville residents have flocked to the few open restaurants to soak up the air conditioning and get a hot meal.
Kaika Teppanyaki Asian Fusion was accepting cash only Monday when it opened around 4 p.m. for the after-Irma crowd as wind still gusted outside.
Customer Brianna Peek said she drove in from the Southside after seeing so many pictures of Riverside’s flooding on social media.
“It was crazy,” Peek said. “I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I’ve never seen the river like that. It’s kind of scary.”
The worst-in-a-century flooding made streets blocks from the river completely impassable, submerged cars up to their windshields and sent rescue boats to comb the neighborhood for those stranded.
Peek said back at her Southside home, she had just a few trees down — nothing major — but she’s been without power since 3 a.m. Monday.
JEA has been warning customers that outages could last weeks.
“We’ve got some water, but not for over a week, so hopefully within the next few days we’ll get some power back on,” she said.
A few tables over from Peek sat Lauren Lodato, whose house also lost power. As of Monday at 9:30 p.m., just fewer than 200,000 JEA customers were in the dark.
Lodato said she’s taking the disruption as an opportunity to head to Disney Tuesday. She said that’s what she did the day after Hurricane Matthew too.
“There (were) no lines and beautiful weather,” she said. “It was really empty. We ended up getting a breakfast reservation at Be Our Guest at like 9 o’clock the night before because people started canceling all their reservations, so we ended up having a really great day.”
Not everyone fared so well in Hurricane Irma, though. Inland flooding from storm surge left hundreds stranded and in need of boat rescue Monday across Northeast Florida.
In Clay County, flooded parts of Black Creek are expected to crest Tuesday.