Hurricane Ian: ‘Never seen that in my life’ – Irish pub owner stands his ground as Hurricane Ian hits Florida

An Irish innkeeper decides to hole up in a Florida home despite government evacuations in the face of Hurricane Ian.

Eán Rice, a restaurateur from Omagh Co Tyrone, moved to Florida in 2000 and has owned the Salty Shamrock Pub in Apollo Beach for seven years.

Just south of Tampa, Mr. Rice, his wife Áine Rice and their two sons, Tomás and Seán Óg, were in the path of the Category 5 hurricane when it struck Florida’s southwest coast, guarding their pub and fishing boat.

“We have been evacuating since yesterday [Tuesday], which was a mandatory evacuation, but yesterday there was a slight turn in the hurricane. My problem is if I leave, how do I get back? So I decided to hole up here in the house,” Mr. Rice said Thursday night.

“They advised us to evacuate about four days ago. If you don’t evacuate, that basically means if you call 911, they won’t answer. We had booked accommodation in Orlando for three nights but decided to stay.

“We’re currently still on power, we haven’t had a direct hit yet, probably two hours before it comes, but we’re seeing winds of around 80mph.

“I’ve never seen that before. We’re just concerned about the flood of water — if all that water comes back — because if there’s a 10-foot wave, we’re all in trouble,” Mr. Rice said

Mr. Rice lives in a one-story house six to seven feet above sea level.

“We expect the flood to hit us in two days. It was low tide this morning, my water usually recedes to about two feet low tide. Right now there is no water at all,” he said.

“My pool is already about two feet tall from rainwater alone. If it overflows, it also comes into the house.


A boat near Seán Rice’s Pub in Florida

“I’ve never seen that in my life. All the water is gone, everything has been sucked off. There’s a huge boat over there and it’s just lying at the bottom of the canal.

“The storm surge is the one that does all the damage.”

As far as prep goes, Mr. Rice has stocked up on supplies like food and water, and prepared a non-electric grill – needed as it doesn’t have a backup generator.

“We’ve stocked up. One of the neighborhood transformers just blew up about 45 minutes ago. Many of my employees have already lost their strength.

“I have a smoker grill, not an electric one. I have ice and cooler. And then I have a grill in the garage if needed. I have water. We don’t have a backup generator. But we’ve got enough to get through.

“We anticipate a power outage for about four or five days,” he said.

As for his pub, the Salty Shamrock, Mr. Rice fears the destruction that Hurricane Ian could wreak.

“I just hope my restaurant doesn’t lose power. We went there last night and climbed the bar. I’ve got outdoor seating and a stage – it’s all going to blow my mind. There’s not much we can do about it,” he said.

“Hopefully we can open up and clear out the mess and debris. Aside from that, I just hope everyone is safe,” he said. Hurricane Ian: ‘Never seen that in my life’ – Irish pub owner stands his ground as Hurricane Ian hits Florida

Fry Electronics Team

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