It’s been one week since Hurricane Florence, downgraded to a tropical storm, made its appearance on the east coast, and the level of impact for businesses in the awards, engraving, and personalization industry ranges from profound to minimal. Since then, A&E heard from several companies in the area with updates.
Among such was Ron Wight of Coastal Engraving in Wilmington, North Carolina, who last week predicted that the shop had lost a week’s worth of business due to the incoming storm. “We survived the storm,” he reports. “Power was restored to the business (on September 19th). We had little damage for which we are very thankful, (but) parts of Wilmington are devastated by fallen trees and floodwaters.”
Many are still without power, clean water, food, and other basic needs, explains Wight. “Trying to navigate around town with storm debris, flooding, and no traffic lights has been a nightmare … One of my employees is still without power. I have told them all to take as much time as they need to handle things at home.”
Because of the conditions for transportation, Coastal Engraving doesn’t anticipate much foot traffic for several weeks. Wight states, “We have received emailed orders mostly from out-of-towners.”
Down the coast in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Steve Rapchick of All American Awards informs that, “(Because) the governor ordered mandatory evacuations starting Tuesday, September 11th, we closed our doors until it was lifted on Sunday, September 16th. During that time, most of the businesses in the Charleston area were closed including grocery stores, Walmart, and service stations.”
For him, preparing for Florence was the biggest challenge. Before evacuation, All American Awards disconnected their computers from power, wrapped them in plastic bags, covered equipment with plastic bags, ensured that software and artwork was backed up to the Cloud, and made sure a hard drive backup was taken offsite. Lastly, Rapchick says they made sure any trash cans or possible projectiles loose were taken out of the building. Considering the amount of flooding that was expected, this was an important measure.
Rapchick continues, “Thankfully, we were spared any damage and in fact, (we) probably had about one inch of rain and very light breezes. Although it was a pain to be closed, at least we were blessed with no damage.”
David Sloan from Sports Trophies also checked in to report that his shops in Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina did not get hit by the hurricane as expected. “We did have to close up shop for a couple of days, but fortunately missed the brunt of the storm,” he explains.
This is an ongoing event. A&E will continue to report on this story with details from voices around the industry as we receive more information. If you have a story you want to share about your experiences with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence, please contact [email protected].