Clay County, Florida – A popular Clay County restaurant reopened Saturday after experiencing flooding from Tropical Storm Nicole.
Whitey’s Fish Camp – a seafood restaurant on Fleming Island, next to Swimming Pen Creek – is no stranger to flooding. Managers told News4JAX that while they did prepare for Nicole’s arrival, they were not prepared for Hurricane Ian and learned it wasn’t the best option.
The county received about two-and-a-half inches of rain from the storm, which resulted in excessive flooding in several areas including Green Bay Springs, Doctors Lake and Orange Park, according to Clay County emergency management officials.
The tiki bar was flooded, and the water covered the pier and parking lot, including the outer deck.
Like many other residents, Whitey’s fish camp manager isn’t alone in underestimating Nicole’s impact.
“Definitely no we were prepared for Ian because it was just a tropical storm. But all our piers were flooded. Nicole had a higher flood than Ian, so it almost reached our upper dining deck as well. We Very surprised,” manager Danielle Lawley said.
Despite the surprising consequences, the restaurant suffered no major damage. The floodwaters receded in time and the restaurant reopened on Saturday, much to the relief of patrons and musicians who have been at Whitey’s for years.
“We grew up with this institution, and we’re so happy it’s back up and running. We love it,” said White musician Mike Cook.
While Nicole caught the restaurant off guard, Lawley said they will be more cautious the next time the storm hits.
“Even if it’s a storm, we’ll be prepared,” Lawley said.
The rest of Clay County returned to normal as the floodwaters began to recede. Residents of Clay County were out and about in Spring Park in Green Cove Springs on Saturday, but that wasn’t the case on Thursday as the area was completely flooded.
Many residents were surprised by Nicole’s impact because it was a tropical storm. They said they didn’t expect a storm of this magnitude to cause so much damage.
“River flooding is common, but a lot of people don’t think Nicole will have that power,” Derrick Surrat said. “I thought we would just have rain and wind, but that’s nature.”
News4JAX Insiders also sent images of the flood, showing water pouring on sidewalks and on flooded boat ramps.
Things started to get back to normal Friday night as the community enjoyed food trucks in the park.
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