St. Augustine businesses bounce back after Nicole


“Unfortunately, I am just thinking ahead for next year. We know it’s coming,” one restaurant co-owner said.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — It was incredible to see the downtown area of St. Augustine flooded during Nicole last week.

And just as amazing is how fast the city has bounced back.  Businesses are open. Customers are bustling along streets and storefronts.

Reggie Maggs is a co-owner Meehan’s Irish Pub which sits on St. Augustine’s bayfront.  

It’s hard to believe just days ago, tropical storm Nicole flooded Avenida Menendez, the street Meehan’s sits on.  And water rushed into the area of the restaurant known as The Backyard, which is behind Meehan’s. No water flooded the building, but the The Backyard was “basically washed out,” Maggs said. 

The water was about two feet high in The Backyard and washed in and out with the tides from the bay.

Four days later, all the flooded-out electrical outlets are fixed, the yard  is scrubbed and pristine, and the furniture is back in place.  It’s back to business as usual for these restaurants and many others in downtown St. Augustine. 

Maggs and others have learned not just how to prepare for big storms and the flooding but how to reopen their doors quickly afterwards.

Even with the flooding, Meehan’s and The Backyard were only closed for two days: Wednesday and Thursday.  

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and several flooding events since then have taught business owners what to do.

“Everyone knows,” Maggs told First Coast News. “They know this is the deal. Unfortunately, this is the deal now. The last couple of years we’ve been seeing so many.”

Many of the business owners and managers have found ways to make it look easy to reopen after a big storm. So much so, often customers don’t know all the work that’s gone into reopening.

Right after the worst of the storm passes, the employees at downtown businesses often clean and do repairs at their workplaces.

“Yeah, yeah,” Maggs nodded. “Pressure wash. Clean. They all know the deal. They call on the phone and say, ‘what can we do? We’ll be there.'”

He said even their electricians will call, offering their services.

Maggs and many others are constantly learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping their buildings and their cafes protected.

“Unfortunately, I am just thinking ahead for next year. We know it’s coming… I’m thinking it’s coming,” Maggs nodded. “I’ve been here 13 years, I’ve seen five hurricanes.”

And so far, St. Augustine businesses have found ways to meet their storms with resilience.

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