CEDAR KEY, Fla. (WFLA) — For some residents of Cedar Key, a little-known island community tucked away along Florida’s Nature Coast, the oncoming Hurricane Idalia has brought back memories of past storms.
The old-fashioned fishing village is bracing for a massive hit from Idalia, which is forecast to make landfall north of the island as a major Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday. Storm surge levels could reach 15 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Business owners along Dock Street, Cedar Key’s main drag, were putting the finishing touches on their storm preparations on Tuesday. For some, the oncoming storm brings back memories of past storms like Hurricane Hermine in 2016 and Hurricane Elsa in 2021.
Jordan Keeton, owner of the 83 West restaurant, spent the day getting his business ready, hoping to prevent some of the damage that resulted from Hermine’s massive storm surge.
“The electronics that are going to be hard to move, we’re trying to keep those from splashes and being hit by too much water,” Keeton said.
Everything that could be moved was carried to the second floor – even the taps from the kegs behind the bar. The television and electrical panel were wrapped in plastic, but everything else, according to Keeton, is designed to withstand the surge.
“All of the dry wall was taken out, everything was replaced with Durock, so everything was made to get wet,” Keeton said.
Now, he just hopes everything will still be there when he returns after the storm.
“We’re taking it seriously,” Keeton said. “Hermine did a lot of damage and that was just a Category 1 storm.”
At the Prickly Palm restaurant, the owners were loading up and boarding up, getting ready for the storm.
“To get ready, I’m just getting all of the stuff out of the business,” owner Hannah Healy said. “Anything that could potentially be in the flood zone is either going up or it’s going on the trailer. Anything of value, I’m trailering off-island, to be honest.”
The business is relatively new, so it hasn’t been battle-tested against past storms. Healy said she’s not taking any chances.
“Obviously we are going to have winds and things,” owner Beau Hoffman said, “Most people here have metal roofs that are made, but my major concern is the flooding and stuff getting carried away.”
And it’s not just their business the owners are concerned about; it’s their friends and neighbors.
“I’m hoping they are all the proper precautions to get ready as well, but if not, we’ll help them,” Hoffman said. “That’s what we do here, we help each other out in hard times.”
With Idalia’s forecast track inching westward, it’s likely that Cedar Key may be spared the worst of its winds, but the storm surge remains a catastrophic threat.