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Biketoberfest begins in Daytona Beach two weeks after Hurricane Ian

Daytona Beach's Main Street is the epicenter of Biketoberfest.Photo: Talia Blake, WMFE
Daytona Beach's Main Street is the epicenter of Biketoberfest.Photo: Talia Blake, WMFE

Biketoberfest starts today in Daytona Beach and runs through the weekend. The four day event comes just two weeks after Hurricane Ian dumped some 19 inches of rain in parts of Volusia County. 

WMFE's Talia Blake caught up with Lori Campbell Baker, Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director,  to talk about what to expect during the first major event in the city after the storm. 

Is the city ready for visitors after the storm?

Motorcyclists are piling into Daytona Beach for the 30th annual Biketoberfest. The event comes just two weeks after Hurricane Ian drenched the region. 

Lori Campbell Baker, Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director, said although many areas are still recovering, the main areas for the event are ready. 

"Main Street, parts of midtown, Destination Daytona in the Ormond Beach area, they're up and ready to go," she said. "And we just found out that Daytona International Speedway, which you may have seen had some, some tremendous flooding is ready to go for the motorcycle races."

Although some areas are ready for visitors, there are still parts of Daytona Beach that are still recovering, especially hotels near the beach.

"In some areas, the sea walls eroded greatly. So there are some pool decks that are compromised," said Baker.

She adds that access to the beach is very limited. "You could literally be in a property that's right on the sand and maybe have to go farther down the beach in order to access it," said Baker.  "You're not going to be driving on the beach. There is no vehicular access in the court area right now."

This year marks the 30th year of Biketoberfest, which is one of the big economic drivers in Volusia County. Bikers ride in from all over the country every year. But, Hurricane Ian may have some bikers staying home this time around.

" If not for the storm we would be saying there's going to be people coming from all over the world that want to be here for our 30th to celebrate with our community," said Baker. "But we also know that a lot of Biketoberfest visitors actually come from the state of Florida and many of them come from areas that were very much affected by this hurricane and so it's sort of a mixed bag."

What you should know when attending this year

As recovery and cleanup efforts continue in Volusia County, Baker said it's important for motorcyclists to watch out for debris stacked on the side of the road.

"Take two, three looks before you go out into an intersection. Look for sand and road debris as well." she said. "A little bit of sand or piled up leaves can you know if you're doing a hard turn and leaning into it, you're gonna lose some traction. So just be careful."

In addition to watching out for road hazards, Baker said it's important to be mindful and respectful of local residents who are still recovering from the storm.

"There are areas within our county where the neighbors, they've had to clear out their whole houses. Those are not neighborhoods to go into," she said. "So just be very respectful to the neighbors, who have just been through a really, really hard time and it's  going to continue for some of them for quite a while."

Helping local residents

During Biketoberfest this year, attendees can make a donation to Jeep Beach to support Volusia residents recovering from the storm.

"If you're a motorcycle enthusiast or Biketoberfest visitor and you want to help out the area in addition to you spending money here, which we greatly appreciate," said Baker. "You can actually make donations that will go directly to those in need within Volusia County through jeepbeach.com."

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she was an intern for WMFE’s public affairs show, Intersection. In her spare time, Talia is an avid foodie and enjoys working out.
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