As hurricane season ends, many still rebuilding

By Saul Saenz, Volusia County Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 11:32 PM EST

The hurricane season ended Wednesday, but some Daytona Beach businesses are still trying to recover from Hurricane Matthew damage.

  • Hurricane Matthew impacted east coast counties in October
  • Many businesses, families along the coast are still rebuilding
  • HURRICANE MATTHEW: Complete coverage

One of those businesses is the Starlite Diner on Atlantic Avenue, recognized by tourists for its iconic shiny aluminum exterior shell.

But that shell was peeled off by Hurricane Mathew’s powerful winds, exposing the raw wood.

“There’s extensive amount of damage,” said owner Kevin Genlaw.

Genlaw said he has a hard time looking at all the damage caused almost two months ago. Matthew not only damaged the building -- it also left many of his workers unemployed.

“It's stressful. We have 25 employees that are out there still hustling to find a job or are unemployed,” said a saddened Genlaw.

Genlaw now has to explain to his former employees, as well as customers, why it’s taken so long to reopen.

“But here we are two months, approximately two months from the incident, and we’re just not getting the relief that we expected from the insurance company,” said Genlaw.

Genlaw said that insurance company is Citizen’s Insurance.

Spokesman Michael Peltier said they have resolved 85 percent of hurricane damage claims, but will investigate why the Starlite Diner claim is still open.

It’s not just restaurants that are closed. Hotels like the La Playa are shut down, gutting every piece of damaged furniture while they try to recover. Other hotels remain partially open while they try to rebuild.

Workers at the Budget 8 on Atlantic Avenue are tearing down walls of the front office and other rooms destroyed by Matthew.

According to the Volusia County Property Appraiser’s office, close to 8,500 properties were either damaged or destroyed by the hurricane.

But that office has yet to determine how may have recovered, or remain unsafe, like Genlaw’s restaurant, a building which would likely not hold up during another storm.

“I'm glad the season is over,” said a relieved Genlaw.

Genlaw believes damage to his building will reach more than $300,000.

But he says he has lost much more than that by being closed during special events, which pump millions of dollars into the local economy.