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Downtown St. Augustine Businesses Pick Up Pieces After Record Flooding

Ryan Benk
Dave Border cleans up the front of his shop in St. Augustine Saturday.

As the First Coast continues recovering from Hurricane Matthew, business owners in downtown St. Augustine aren’t sure when things will return to normal.  

Dave Border spent Saturday morning  sweeping away palm fronds, dirt and trees from in front of his World of Flags and Sports shop on St. George Street. Sweat beading on his forehead, he gestured to residue on his shop walls that the flooding left behind.

“Had about a foot of water in — you can see the high water mark. … That’s about a foot up off the ground and of course that all went in despite the sandbags and the boarding,” he said.

Border said his store opened 35 years ago. In that time, no storm has caused this much damage. His carpet is destroyed, a lot of merchandise is ruined and the floorboards on his front stoop are warped.

Further up the street, Terry Akras and her husband are surveying retail space they lease. So far, it seems they were luckier than Border.

Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News
The streets of downtown St. Augustine are covered in debris the morning after Hurricane Matthew.

But her home is another matter. Videos on her phone show their Anastasia Island house completely enveloped by marsh water.

“There’s our backyard I just showed you with all the beautiful grass. This is our porch, this is the little thing for coming into the house and at this moment the water was coming into my house. Three inches of water all throughout the house,” she said.

St. Augustine City Administrator Michael Wanchick said as much asbillions of dollars in damage is expected.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.