Businesses in St. Armands Circle emerge largely unscathed from Ian
Hurricane Ian came to St. Armands Circle, but it did not disrupt electrical service or result in a major storm surge.
| 5:41 p.m. September 29, 2022
There are uprooted trees and debris from fallen cinderblocks, but most of the businesses on St. Armands Circle escaped major damage from Hurricane Ian.
Traffic across the Ringling Bridge started Thursday morning for residents and around 1 p.m. for the general population, and a few of the shops in St. Armands got a jump on the initial cleanup.
Mikael Sandstrom, part of the family that runs Olivia Fashion Boutique, said he had spent a restless Wednesday preparing for the worst. He arrived at the shop at 7 a.m. Wednesday to board up the windows, and then he went home.
Sandstrom said he lost power at home around 5 p.m. Wednesday but never felt he was in actual danger from the storm. After a restless night, he made his way across the bridge to check out Olivia Fashion Boutique on Thursday morning and was relieved with what he found.
“There’s no damage here,” he said. “There was a little bit of debris. This piece of piping for water drainage fell down. Other than that, we were pretty fortunate. No actual damage.”
Sandstrom said that if there’s anything Sarasota residents and business owners know how to do, it’s preparing for and reacting to the immediate after-effects of a storm.
“I went through Irma,” he said. “I was raised here. I’ve been here since 1986. I’ve been through every hurricane, so it’s like a routine. I know the steps and checklists and everything like that.”
Gary Bennington, who runs Bennington Tobacconist with his two brothers, Jack and Jim, also arrived on Thursday morning to take stock of the situation.
And much like his neighbors at Olivia Fashion Boutique, Bennington found that his store hadn’t suffered much damage.
“I was concerned at first,” said Bennington, whose business has been open for 57 years. “But after it hit Punta Gorda, I knew we weren’t going to get the worst of it.”
There were no broken windows at Bennington Tobacconist, and electric service was working when Bennington arrived on Thursday morning.
Bennington, in fact, said he’ll be able to open up for business as usual on Friday, and that's something he probably didn't anticipate when he went to sleep on Tuesday evening.
“We’ve been through a few hurricanes. This one was probably the worst one,” he said.
“But we were really lucky. There’s a few trees out there blown down. We’re relieved. We didn’t have any tidal surge at all. If it had been further north, we’d have had that problem.”