Piney Point evacuation leaves negative impact on small businesses

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA)- At Poppi’s Restaurant on U.S. 41, a steady stream of cars entered the parking lot on Wednesday, only to be disappointed when they found out the business has closed temporarily.

Poppi’s is not far from the Piney Point gypsum stack and the business is inside an area that was under a mandatory evacuation order.

Employees first learned on Friday there was a problem at Piney Point.

“On Friday they started getting text messages saying there was a dangerous situation,” said owner George Ameres.

On Saturday Ameres learned he would have to shut down the restaurant down.

“We had a trooper come here, step into the restaurant and tell everybody that they had to get out and we had to evacuate everybody immediately,” said Ameres.

On Wednesday employees worked on cleaning projects to fill time as they waited for a food delivery that had been delayed by the evacuation order.

“It’s been a negative effect on us from the perspective of not being able to come to work every day. Me personally, yes I’m taking a hit but I’m a little more concerned about our staff. They’ve been out of work now going on six days,” said Ameres.

Ameres says he hopes to reopen on Thursday. Not far away, the Strikeforce Energy Drink Company also had to shut down.

“The evacuation, we found out about it on Saturday, we were contacted, I believe by the county. My first thought was, wow that’s right across the street from my building, I wonder what the story is,” said owner Bruce Schlee.

Eventually, they were also forced to evacuate by Manatee County.

“We are primarily a web-based company, so we sell on Amazon, Walmart, things like that but we do all of our manufacturing and shipping from this location. So, for three or four days we were unable to come in and I’ve got a lot of employees that are calling and saying, what’s going on, are we going to get paid?” said Schlee.

The business has reopened, but they are concerned about the future.

“Nobody likes to lives next to something that could take out their business at any time,” said Schlee.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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