Cedar Key on road to recovery 3 months after Hurricane Hermine

CEDAR KEY, Fla. (WFLA) – On this tiny island off the Gulf Coast of Florida, there are plenty of signs—literally and figuratively—that show how a small town can rebound after a trying time.

“Cedar Key Strong,” reads a sign at the Market at Cedar Key.cedar-key2

“It had [torn] off the back wall and we got four feet of water in the store,” said cashier Ernest Hemminger.

The supermarket was one of the hardest hit businesses when Hurricane Hermine, a category one, battered the island in early September.

“The food was all over the floor and floating in the water,” Hemminger said.

The market is back in business just in time for the busy holiday season.

“Everything from this point right here out was all blown out in the street—as you probably remember the next day,” said Chris Hembree, owner of the Beach Front Motel, as he pointed to the pool area which sustained major damage.  Part of the walkway and barrier wall were destroyed.

Hermine caused roughly $500,000 in damage at the motel, Hembree said.

A nine-foot storm surge battered the buildings. A News Channel 8 crew rode out part of the storm on the second floor. Rooms on the first floor were obliterated. Every piece of furniture was ruined.

“It was a slow start but we got the contractors in here—got all the permits,” Hembree said. “It’s going quick now.”

The motel was shut down for two months, but re-opened in early November.

Three first-floor rooms damaged during the hurricane have been renovated and all of them are expected to be finished soon.

Nearby, some residents opted to put their homes on stilts after they sustained severe water damage. Those who live on Cedar Key want to be ready—just in case there’s a next time.

“It was pretty bad,” said Lynn, who didn’t want to give her last name. “I don’t think we expected the surge to be what it was.”

She lost her home in the storm.

Cedar Key City Hall and the United States post office remain closed until they can be repaired inside, officials said.

Police Chief Virgil Sandlin tells News Channel 8 the hurricane caused around $10 million in damage. No one was injured.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” Sandlin said.

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