CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A popular Clay County restaurant has reopened after flooding from Tropical Storm Nicole.
Whitey’s Fish Camp — a Fleming Island seafood restaurant that sits right on Swimming Pen Creek — is no stranger to flooding. Managers told News4JAX that while they were preparing for Nicole’s arrival, they weren’t preparing as much as for Hurricane Ian and learned it wasn’t the best choice.
According to Clay County Emergency Management officials, the county received about two and a half inches of rain from the storm, which caused excessive flooding in various areas including Green Cove Springs, Doctors Lake and Orange Park.
The tiki bar flooded and water covered the docks and pocking lot including the outside deck.
Whitey’s Fish Camp managers, along with many other residents, aren’t the only ones who underestimate Nicole’s influence.
“Definitely not as well prepared as we were for Ian because it was just a tropical storm. But all of our docks were underwater. We experienced higher flooding at Nicole than at Ian, almost reaching our upper dining deck as well. We’re very surprised,” said manager Danielle Lawley.
Despite the surprising consequences, the restaurant did not suffer any major damage. The floodwaters receded in time for the restaurant’s reopening on Saturday, which was a relief to customers and musicians who have been coming to Whitey’s for years.
“We grew up with this facility and are happy to have it working again. We love it,” said Mike Cook, a musician at Whitey’s.
Although Nicole caught the restaurant off guard, Lawley said they will be more cautious in the next storm.
“Even if there’s a storm, we’ll be prepared,” Lawley said.
Other areas of Clay County also returned to normal as floodwaters receded. Clay County residents were out and about at Spring Park in Green Cove Springs on Saturday, which was not the case on Thursday as the area was completely flooded.
Many local residents were surprised by Nicole’s impact as it was a tropical storm. They said they didn’t expect a storm of this magnitude to wreak so much havoc.
“River flooding is common, but many didn’t think a Nicole would be able to do that,” said Derrick Surrat. “I thought we were only going to get rain and wind, but that’s mother nature.”
News4JAX insiders also sent in images of the flooding, which showed water pouring down sidewalks and flooding boat ramps.
Things returned to normal on Friday night as the community enjoyed food trucks at the park.
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