DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every year, about 150,000 people descend on Daytona Beach for Biketoberfest, but damage caused by Hurricane Matthew has caused 20 hotels to close ahead of this weekend's event.
Jennifer Cardwell made an 18-hour trip from Indiana to attend, but had no idea if her hotel was one of the ones affected.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking, just wondering if the hotel was going to be available when we got here,” she said. “Knowing that people were displaced the way it was in hotels.”
Cardwell said she spent a week trying to get through to the hotel by phone and online, but finally decided to risk it and packed up for the trip.
Fortunately her hotel, Tropical Winds Oceanfront, was not seriously damaged by the storm.
Of the 140 hotels and motels in the Daytona Beach area, 20 were closed by Hurricane Matthew, including the 740-room Hilton.
“Matthew is gone. Biketoberfest is on. We are so ready for this event,” said Lori Campbell Baker with the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The event usually brings in $43 million, but that could be smaller this year following the hurricane.
Local biker Rick Cole has been attending Biketoberfest for 20 years, but is concerned attendance could be down this year because of the storm.
Cole was one of the Florida residents who fled their homes ahead of Hurricane Matthew, and when he returned he was shocked by the damage.
“Our home is half gone,” he said. “The wind damage and the water damage is extensive.”
Damage in Daytona Beach and the debris that still litters the city could dissuade bikers from making the trip, Cole said.
Die-hard Biketoberfest fans will make it regardless, he added.
“They are going to come,” Cole said. “It’s Daytona, baby.”
Biketoberfest starts Thursday and runs through Sunday.
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