The owner of an Irish pub in Florida is opening a bar as a recreation center giving residents hot food after Hurricane Ian devastated the US state

An Irish pub owner living in Florida has expressed relief that he appears to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Ian as he and his family huddled as it battered the US state.

After a night of high winds and heavy rain, the worst appears to be over for Seán Rice and his family, who are now planning to reopen the Salty Shamrock pub as a convalescent centre.

“It definitely died down there, we dodged a big bullet,” said Mr. Rice, who is originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone in a follow-up interview this afternoon.

“But a lot of people have power outages and we were very lucky not to have had a power outage. Everyone around us did it for some reason. We have no idea why we didn’t.

“We have this ice machine, so today my house didn’t stop people coming for ice cream.

“Other houses have also kept electricity, my neighbors here are all fine, but there is no electricity on the other side of the canal, there is no electricity a few meters down the road. It’s just very random. A few transformers blew up so many people lost power early in the day,” he said.

Thankfully, the feared 10-foot wave he was warned about could come down the canal into his home never arrived as winds eased to 20-30mph from yesterday’s 80.

“It has definitely settled down, it went through a lot quicker than expected. The worst is gone,” he said.

Mr Rice now plans to reopen the boarded up pub he wanted to protect to provide hot food and shelter to those in the community who lost power during the height of Hurricane Ian.

“I’m trying to open the pub today because there are so many people who don’t have electricity. So I try to get them hot food so they can see the news and share.

“I’ve got backup and a few people up there fixing a few things, but hopefully we’ll be open at 3am today. Many people will be very grateful.

“We’re going to have a little community center there,” Mr. Rice said.

During a previous hurricane a few years ago, Mr. Rice had used another of his bars for the same purpose – taking advantage of the fact that it was on the same power grid as a local blood bank.

“I was the only restaurant nearby that was open. Oh dear God. It was like a refugee camp for two or three days.

Mr. Rice 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. The owner of an Irish pub in Florida is opening a bar as a recreation center giving residents hot food after Hurricane Ian devastated the US state

Fry Electronics Team

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