Hurricane Hermine Hits Cedar Key

By now you’ve heard about the storm that tore through Cedar Key a few nights back. What started out as a small Tropical Depression, gained some strength into a Tropical Storm and moved up to full blown CAT 1 Hurricane Hermine made for a night we’ll NEVER forget.

Yes, Cindy and I became two of those people you read about in the newspaper while sipping your morning coffee, shake your head and usually think aloud “What a couple of Idiots!

In our 6 years in Cedar Key, almost 15 years of living in Florida, we’ve ridden out a bunch of storms, multiple Hurricanes and the weekly crazy squalls that blow through. So when they called this one “Just a Tropical Storm that could bring in some high tides“, we hunkered down, stocked up on drinks, ice and some dry goods like most Floridians do. We packed up a few things, moved some valuables to higher, more protected ground and hosted a Hurricane Party the night of the storm.

We had plenty of things to Celebrate. Our cozy little Studio had just purchased a full Liquor License and we couldn’t wait to have all our friends and Cedar Key locals over to 2nd Street for some drinks. We took delivery of a new Glass Door Merchandiser from Coca-Cola and our Liquor Rep from Southern Spirits made a special delivery just to make sure we’d have a full bar for the Labor Day weekend.

With the Weather Channel constantly on in the background, town was abuzz with activity to fill sandbags, board up some lower windows and go about the rituals one does while preparing for a storm. The town is very good about pulling together and making sure your neighbor has everything they need. If you’ve never lived in a Coastal Area, then you wouldn’t understand that this practice can become very tedious and almost annoying when you put aside your daily work, work that would normally produce an income to fill sandbags, board up windows, install storm shutters and load a cargo trailer with items that could potentially be ruined by flood waters. 99% of the time, you spend a day or two doing all of this, only to have a storm that peters out and everything was done for nothing, then have a few days of undoing all your prepreations. After a 4th or 5th time of doing this, each time you do a little less and boast “This isn’t even worth it!

Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Photo, Cedar Key, Storm Photography

Waves coming over the boat ramp seawall as the storm came closer

Cindy and I both kept saying to one another “If it moves up to a full blown Hurricane, we’ll leave.” The small Tropical Storms usually bring in some waves, which aren’t all that common for our normally mellow section of coastline. Maybe the streets hold a bit of water and people get upset when gawkers come in from the surrounding communities to see the waves and flooding and they end up creating a wake as they drive down the flooded out city streets. A few days later, the streets have been thoroughly cleaned and its back to business as usual.

So you can see where our thought process was when we said “We’ll just ride out this storm and hopefully it misses us.”

As the night grew on and the winds, rain and warnings grew stronger, you could cut the tension in the air. Town was basically shut down and our little Studio was really the only business still open. The afternoon high tide brought in about a foot of water and like usual, all of us laughed saying “See, that wasn’t all that bad!” The streets flooded out, we boasted that it was another false alarm and everyone went home to the comforts of their dry homes.

We knew the evening/early morning 3am High Tide was going to be bigger than the afternoons, and that was when the storm surge was going to be making landfall, but all of us figured since the afternoon High Tide had only brought in some minor flooding to the streets, the sandbagging and preparations would save us……Boy were we wrong!

With everyone gone, Cindy and I were getting ready for bed and making sure a few last minute things were buttoned up. Our Studio is zoned Dual Use, so we could live in it if we wanted to. We bought a Murphy Bed awhile back, so on days that we’re working here till late in the night, we can just pull down the bed, sleep for a few hours and go back to work come morning. This comes in very handy from time to time and tonight we figured we’d stay in the Studio rather than drive out to our house which is 6 miles off the island and up on stilts. (Yeah, we’re those idiots that stay in the storm rather than go to higher ground??)

We had also previously talked to our good friends Heath and Jolie. They live a few houses down from us, but in a stones throw away, the road rises and their house sits about 15-20′ higher on a hill. So they had said before they went home from the Hurricane Party “Remember, if it gets bad, just walk up to our place. We’ll leave the front door unlocked and you can stay in the spare bedroom.” Nothing to worry about! We have all our stuff thought out and an exit plan.

Fast forward a few hours. Around midnight, neither of us have slept a wink. A few locals would walk by now and then in shin deep water doing what Floridians do during a storm. The tide was slowly coming in and the rain was coming down in buckets at this point. Winds had picked up to the point you could hear the buildings groaning under its stress. When the last news crew pulled up out front and got out of their car in shin deep water, they knocked on the door and asked if they could do an interview with us. They said we were the only thing around that looked open and now that the storm had been upgraded to a CAT 1 Hurricane, they couldn’t believe we were still here.

Cindy and I sheepishly looked at one another with that “Oh Shit” look and wondered what we were doing.

We talked about the fact that Jim Cantore had been our first customer of the day. We had officially been open for one full day and had a whopping total of $30 in sales….Makes it all worth it right? I’m not sure if it’s a good sign, or a really bad one when the first customer in your bar is a news reporter known around the world for his coverage of storm ravaged towns.

They thanked us, packed up and headed off to higher ground.

We watched the water rise a bit more and the current go from a slow moving stream, to a raging rapped as the ocean basically came ashore.

We slowly moved things up on top of other things. Wooden tables that would be able to survive standing water became the ultimate JENGA contest. Another hour into the storm and going outside meant being pelted with a driving rain that actually hurt. Each time we’d say “It’s not going to come any higher“….and we’d stack a few more delicate items higher atop other pieces of furniture. Electronics got unplugged, we kept walking around doing a once over of the Studio moving and rearranging items to what we thought would make them safe.

And then the inevitable scream came from the back of the building as I was standing at the front door saying “It’s up to the door frame!

The back of our building faces the Gulf of Mexico which is one block away. We had been watching out the back door off and on seeing waves coming over what was 1st Street. When the tide was so high that the waves were hitting the back of the building, the water started seeping in through the walls and floor. Wildly enough, we never had water come in through our doors which were all boarded up, but when you have it just coming in through a tile floor, there is not much you can do.

At first, this was 100% my fault. The building has a custom made bin in the laundry room with a sump pump built in. This is supposed to be hooked to a 12volt battery that ejects the water outside in the event of a flood. As it started and was doing its job, Cindy was yelling at me when the water was coming in faster than the pump could eject it. For some reason, this was my fault.

Earlier in the day, she had asked me to go out to our house and pick up the Shop-Vac so if we flooded, we’d be able to vacuum up the water. She started yelling at me when she asked where it was, and I told her I hadn’t grabbed it.

I finally looked at her, grabbed her by the shoulders and said “Look, water is coming in from the walls, we’re two hours away from High Tide and you’re yelling at me thinking a small sump pump that can’t keep up with a record flood is my fault. A Shop-Vac would be useless at this point, where would we put the water once we vacuum it up? The water is lapping at the side of the building, do we open up the doors and allow more water in to dump out the water we just vacuumed up?

I think that sunk in and she stopped yelling at me. No amount of pump, vacuum or ANYTHING was going to stop this from happening. So we kept stacking things up like we were competing in the JENGA Olympics.

At first the water was crystal clear and only covering a inch or so on the floor. We pulled the Murphy Bed down and put the dogs up there so they’d have a safe spot. We told them to go to bed and they both listened perfectly. Amazingly enough, we’re both those type of people that worry more about our dogs than we do about the thousands of dollars of artwork and furniture that’s about to get ruined.

Hurricane Hermine, Cedar Key, Bonish Studio

The water rose up another foot after this photo was taken

We both kept saying “This isn’t so bad, we can squeegee it out in the morning and we’ll know next time to leave town.

It was when the water inside the building started coming up close to our knee’s when Cindy said “It’s time, lets walk up to Heath and Jolie’s with the dogs!

This was early on when the water was only inches deep and we kept assuring each other it wasn't all that bad

This was early on when the water was only inches deep and we kept assuring each other it wasn’t all that bad

We grabbed our Go-Bag we had made up with a change of clothes, some emergency supplies and personal items and started to put the harnesses on the dogs. With the dogs in our arms, we looked out the front door and both realized the worst had happened. The water was raging so fast across the intersection of D Street and 2nd Street, the intersection we’d have to cross carrying dogs in waist deep water, that we had missed our chance at escape.

Cindy said “I think we can do it if we just walk slow!

Just then, we saw a dock piling, about 12 inches in diameter float past at about 10mph. Behind it was a 80 gallon water heater bobbing like a fishing bobber just waiting for a fish to bite. I looked at Cindy and said “Nope, I’m not risking us walking across that with the dogs in our arms. If one of us looses our footing, falls into the water, the dogs will get swept away too fast for us to grab them.

She looked at me like I had just told her I was going to remove her two front teeth with a set of rusty pliers and said “So this is it, we’re those idiots who are stuck and stranded in their building because we didn’t leave when we had the chance!?

All I could do was nod my head in agreement and much to our dismay we put the dogs back on the bed.

I would have been fine with waiting out the night standing in knee deep water UNTIL we heard the gurgling sound coming up from the toilets. This meant the pressure from the ground water had gotten so much the sewers were backing up. OMG! This is when it got bad. Cindy started yelling at me again and at this point, I didn’t blame her! We were still an hour away from High Tide so the water was still coming up.

With nothing else to do, we pulled down the attic steps, grabbed some pillows off the bed, our Go-Bag and a few dozen bottled waters and hoisted the dogs up into the attic.

Once up there safely, Cindy said “You have to go back down there and find some alcohol, some bleach or some sort of disinfectant! We’re both covered with water that came out of a sewer, we’ll probably both need to go on a round of antibiotics come tomorrow morning if we survive this ordeal!

Just then I thought I heard someone yell from the front of the building!

WTF? Is someone out there in this water? I walked down the ladder and saw what looked like a boat at our front door! They flashed a light a few times into the building and I flashed my light back at them. I climbed down the attic ladder and trudged through the slop to the front of the building. Heath was standing in his Boston Whaler and said “Excuse my boat, it’s normally stored under my deck and it’s a bit dirty, but go grab Cindy and the Dogs and lets go to my house!” That’s a personal joke between us because if you knew Heath, he’s very OCD about being clean and you could eat off of any of his boats they’re always kept so clean.

I yelled for Cindy to put her boots back on and grab the dogs, the Mayor was here to rescue us.

In a short time, and none of it was pretty or eloquent, we got the dogs down the stairs, who up to this point had both been saints. For some reason, when Little thought Honey was going for a boat ride and she wasn’t the first one on the boat, the tiny 3lb terror kept trying to jump out of our arms to attack Honey to show her that even though we’re in a Panic Situation and full on rescue mode, Little was still the Alpha Dog and should have been on the boat first. This had all of us laughing pretty hard at how silly this whole situation was even though it was pretty scary at the same point.

As we crossed the street, Heath pointed towards the Gulf of Mexico and said hold on, we have another ice machine coming at us at a pretty strong ramming speed. The little Yamaha 4hp motor pushed us through the swift current fast enough that we missed the encounter with the ice machine and soon enough, we were on high ground one block away.

We walked into Jolie’s living room at 3am to find her and her mother covering the floor with their life’s photographs as they were trying to dry them out. Apparently their basement/storage room had flooded out with chest deep water. Something that had never happened in a house that’s well over 100 years old. Like us, they had a sump pump built into the basement in the event of a flood, but nothing could keep in front of this amount of water. The boxes of photographs from their daughters childhood were scattered over the floor. It was heartbreaking to see.

Cindy thanked Heath for the rescue, thanked Jolie for the warm, dry house and asked if she could take a shower to wash off the funk covering her legs. She vanished into the bathroom and Heath asked if I wanted to go for a ride with him in the boat? Heath also works at Drummond Community Bank in town and his phone kept getting notified that the banks silent alarm was going off. He said he needed to go check on it at least to make sure the windows and doors were still intact.

So we headed back out into the wind which was at its peak at this point. I think at one time, the little Yamaha 4hp outboard couldn’t push the boat faster than the wind was hitting our bow. We sat still while the motor kept going, and looking beside us, I think we actually started going backwards. Heath and I just hunkered down and kept at it.

We motored down 2nd street dodging debris that was EVERYWHERE. Ice machines, gas cans, storage bins, dock pilings……heck, entire docks were floating down the streets! I don’t think there was anything that could withstand Mother Natures fury when she comes ashore like this.

We checked the bank which had about 3′ of water in it, but all the windows, the front door and the safe door were intact, so that was good. We drove by every building we could, and as Heath turned down C Street to head towards the marina, we both realized that wasn’t a good idea. The wind coming off the Gulf at this point was STRONG. I was worried if we got caught up in a wave or a stiff current, that little 4hp wouldn’t be able to bring us back into the safety of the protected area of 2nd Street. I mean who thinks that boating down Main Street is safe to begin with in the middle of a hurricane, but I know it felt safer than being anywhere near the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

The sounds you could hear across town is something I’ll never forget. Huge portions of docks, decks and pilings were floating and banging into things. Buildings groaning,  the wind was whistling off the powerlines that were whipping and swinging like jump ropes. Luckily for our little joy ride the rain had let up enough that we didn’t feel like we were being stung by a horde of bees.

When it did start to come down again, we turned around and headed back to the safety of his house.

We tied the boat off to a street sign, hosed ourselves off outside before going into the house, I showered as soon as we told the girls about what town looked like, then I went to bed. By this point it was around 4:30am. I was utterly EXHAUSTED. There is something about stress that just knocks all energy out of your body. When the adrenaline is pumping, you don’t notice it, but when it leaves and you know you’re safe, its like you were just injected with a sedative. I wanted to look at my phone as Cindy kept checking in on Facebook to see what everyone else in town was posting about their safety or their businesses and homes. There was nothing good to report. Pretty much every business in town was hit, some demolished. One business was on fire as we laid there with people battling it in waist deep water trying to put it out and keep it from moving to surrounding buildings.

When we thought about the bigger picture, we both held one another and said a prayer that we had gotten by with only dirty water flooding our Studio. We were lying in a warm, dry bed listening to friends talk in the other room, friends that would go out in 100mph winds in a boat to keep us from having to sleep in our attic.

That is when you know you are blessed. We might be idiots, but God was watching out for us at least. Or gave us friends you keep in your prayers every night.

The next morning, I was up as the sun rose. I felt like I was extremely hungover and I hadn’t even drank anything the night before. I think that amount of adrenaline surging through your body taxes your system something awful.

I left Cindy sleeping with the dogs knowing we had a huge day ahead of us. I grabbed my camera and went outside. The water had receded and what was left in it’s path was nasty.

Everywhere you looked was debris. It looked like a child had dumped over a 5 gallon bucket of Lego’s, but the Lego’s were docks, propane tanks, and not the kind that go on your BBQ Grill, the big kind that supply and entire house or restaurant. I looped through town and down onto Dock Street. It was very emotional to see friends businesses ruined. Pretty much everything in town had damage to it. Some easily fixable, some will take months if not longer to bring back to where they were two days ago.

By the time I made it back to the Studio, I think I was in shock. I walked around for at least a half hour just looking around not even knowing where to begin.

Fast forward another 12 hours. Cindy and I spent the entire day cleaning. It’s not often you bring a hose into your house and start from one end with the hose on full and a few friends with push brooms and squeegee’s pushing out dirty, muddy water. Friends showed up to help. Friends brought over supplies, cases of bottled water, dehumidifiers, food, extra Shop-Vac’s……How does one go through life without good friends?

Around dinner time, we were exhausted. We’d slept a few hours in the last two days and had spent the entire day wet and sweating in the extreme heat and humidity. When we finally thought we’d cleaned the building enough that we could close the doors and turn on the A/C, Heath’s sister Ida Marie drove up from Tampa with enough food to feed a dozen people. We walked up to their house and gorged ourselves on BBQ.

With full bellies, we loaded up and headed out to the house where we planned on showering, changing into fresh dry clothes and sleeping for a full night.

When we pulled up, we realized the house was out of power. Don’t ask me how the power is strung past this house to get to Cedar Key, and Cedar Key has power, but this house doesn’t, but it was hot inside the house. We had no water to shower off the days amount of mud that was under our nails.

So we loaded the dogs back up, and headed back to the Studio.

As we got there, we were both arguing over who was going to be able to shower first. Cindy went to open a cupboard to grab a towel and realized that the lower cupboards were still filled with water!!! This meant we spent the next few hours vacuuming cupboards, wiping stuff down and next thing you know, its 2am and we’re still up cleaning. Wow, what a few days!

This morning, we have volunteers walking around town in pouring down rain picking up scattered debris and hauling it off. Groups of school kids spending their Labor Day weekend to help a community they don’t even live in. What a great area we live in, storms and all! God Bless this area, and when you go to bed tonight, say a prayer for everyone in the path of these storms.

Flooding, Bonish Photo, Cedar Key

I drew this line because this was just a crappy picture I took with my phone, but this is where the water was on the outside of the window, and amazingly enough, nothing came in the windows. It just came in the walls

Hurricane hermine, Flooded, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Early on in the night when we kept walking outside to see the waters coming in

Pelican Box, Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Studio, Cedar Key

And this is why we store all our camera gear in Pelican Boxes. By the end of the night, that bottom box was under water and the level was up to the middle box. Everything is dry today

Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Studio

When the Cedar Key Trooper Carrier is this deep, you know it’s bad

Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Studio, Cedar Key

Looking out our front doors when it got really deep

Heath Davis, Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Photo

Mayor Heath Davis Driving the Boat down 2nd Street

Drummond Bank, Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermine, Bonish Photo

Pulling up to check the bank. Notice how deep the water is on the trash can and the fire hydrant

Drummond Bank, Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo

Looking inside the bank window

Hurricane hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

This was when we were headed towards Dock Street and the winds were so strong, We turned around right after this photo

Hurricane hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Heath Davis, Bonish Photo, Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key

If you’re wondering, Heath took down the tattered flag from in front of the bank and it’s folded up under his shirt. That’s why he’s holding his stomach like this

Tony's Clam Chowder, Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo, Flooding

Looking at Tony’s Clam Chowder and Pelican Reality building which is across the street from Bonish Studio

1842 Coffee Shop, Cedar Key, Bonish Studio, Heath Davis, Bonish Photo

Headed back to Safety while passing Bonish Studio and 1842 Coffee Shop

Bonish Studio, Cedar Key, Hurricane hermain

Our first real day of business! Great way to start!

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

this is how far we had to go. You can see our shop down where the lights are in the background

The Aftermath

Cedar Key, hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo

I have no idea what these buckets are made of, but they’re holding up a few hundreds pounds of solid timber

Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo, Jiffy

The amount of debris is amazing

Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Studio, Cedar Key

Our courtyard was filled with debris of all sorts

Island Arts, Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermain

The inside of Island Arts looks like a bomb went off

Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

This concrete floating dock floated a block away and only stopped because it’s up against pilings before it hit the bank

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

The city docks really took a beating at the Marina

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

More damage along the seawall and city dock. This is where the deck from 83 West took out the Weather Channel Camera


Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Debris, Debris and MORE Debris

Brian's Big Deck Raw Bar, Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermain, Bonish Photo

The Big Deck Raw Bar took a beating

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, 83 West

The entire deck that wrapped around 83 was torn off

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, Black Deck

That first step is a doozie

Harbor Master Suites, Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

The ramp up to Harbor Master Suites was torn out

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, 83 West

I have no idea how the pool balls got outside in the street, but here they are amongst a pile of broken glass

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, Dilly Dally Galley

More missing decks

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

At one point when Cindy and i were looking at this building, we got a quote of $90,000 to tear it down. The Storm took care of much of the process

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

One reporter asked me if the extent of the damage was due to how old most of the buildings were. This was built by FEMA and is recently new in terms of Cedar Key’s structures

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

The entire back deck on the old Coconuts building is gone

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, Island Place

And 90% of that deck is in Island Place which is right across the water

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, Island Place

The mass of tangled debris is 10 feet tall

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

There is a slick layer of Mud over EVERYTHING

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Notice how high the water line is on the wall of the Cedar Key Water Department

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

The old Pelican Railroad has a massive water line on it

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, 1842 Coffee

the corner Coffee Shop, 1842 Coffee opened up and became the gathering place. They gave away free coffee and muffins for the locals

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Most of the roads still have water on them

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Lots of Trees down

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

The Road leading out to the Airport was pretty torn up

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

What’s left of the building fire

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

CR347 Heading out to our house. Still lots of water

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

Our Driveway has a bit of water to get to it

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo

This entire driveway/dock lifted out of the water

Hurricane Hermain, Cedar Key, Bonish Photo, Beach Front Motel

The seawall blew out from the Beach Front Motel


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87 Responses to “Hurricane Hermine Hits Cedar Key”

  1. sueSeptember 3, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    I cry as I read this…this is a true, personal account that makes us feel like we were there. Thank you for making it real…even though we were there on the other side of the island, it was nothing to what you experienced. And thank God for folks like Heath and Jolie.

    • Teri LyngeSeptember 4, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

      Teri Lynge September 4th
      My heart is broken for you all. My prayers for you all will not cease until you have rebuilt from the damage. Hermine was horrible! Thank you for the pictures. We had been recently a few months back to Cedar Key and every picture you took, we have walked. and loved the little city. I am so thankful to GOD you all survived! Great reporting and documentation!

    • Maureen NuzziSeptember 10, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

      Can’t thank you enough for your thorough detail of the storm and your generous footage of Cedar Key, that you showed us during the flooding, and after from Hurricane Hermine.
      We come to Cedar Key every chance we can. We love the people there and the place. You know well how it gets a hold of you.
      Living faraway east on the Atlantic Coast, it’s hard to get specifics on Cedar Key except for The Weather Channel.
      I chanced onto your site from google and will be a regular reader.
      Keep up the good work!
      I texted my friend Gay Lynne there, that you write well, are informative, and are funny. Here’s a big Thank You , to you!
      And prayers for everyone in Cedar Key during your long & hard recovery work!
      My guess is , you will remember longer, the help you received, from family, friends and strangers, than the repair work 🙂
      God Bless! In My Prayers,

  2. TaggertSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:01 am #

    Great turn of the word, Pat. This was by far the nuttiest hurricane I’ve ever sat through.

    I’m glad y’all motored out with Heath and the ship wasn’t a loss.

  3. Linda GoudelockSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:03 am #

    I’m so glad you and Cindy, Honey and Little weathered this Cat 1 Hurricane. As I told Cindy, you live in an amazing community and this storm will be talked about for many, many years, Once ya’ll get it cleaned up!

    One day at a time my friend and don’t you know it’s always the husbands fault??? LOL

  4. Karen WebsterSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:26 am #

    Always love seeing your pictures and reading about your adventures. Your writings are very entertaining, absolutely true, you couldn’t make that up. I’m glad you and Cindy were rescued by Heath. That’s real life drama!

  5. Judy BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:25 am #

    A mothers prayers were answered when God sent Heath to rescue you. You always loved adventure & excitement & you sure have it now. Nothing like good friends to remind you what’s really important in life. Give Heath a kiss & hug from me. You re story will be published in your next book of pictures. It makes me feel like I was right there. Keep safe. You both are so loved. Mum

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks for the prayers Mom! Dont stop, they’re much needed for this little town! Love You

    • Laura MachidaSeptember 8, 2016 at 4:20 am #

      Many prayers. Oh Judy, Gratitude and arms around you, around all of you. Pat, what an incredible account of your life on the edge. Gratitude for Heath and for both yours and Cindy’s strength. And Judy, yours too. Sending love and prayers, Laura

  6. Sam meekerSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:26 am #

    Absolutely awesome pat

  7. John blouseSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:32 am #

    Very nice reporting Pat. You are surely talented and santa n i are in the same boat as you but sorry for hour loss’s. If you need somthing please ask. We will busy trying rebuild our shop too.
    Take care

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

      John, if you or Santa need any help, always feel free to ask

    • Stephen Mattia and Susan OrtegaSeptember 5, 2016 at 1:14 am #

      Wishing all of our extended family in cedar key the strength to get through such a challenge in life. Our sincerest regards steve and susan.

  8. DaceSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    Nice job Pat!

  9. Britt ChastainSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:37 am #

    WOW! That was an unreal first day open. Sorry it was such a mess but it could have been a lot worse. We are very thankful that Y’all are ok and grateful for the wonderful friends that you have. Just glad that you guys are ok and the earthly things can be replaced. Even when it looks the worst it is still a blessing to see the building still standing and the friends of a lifetime still there for you. Great job and hoping things get dried out real soon. Miss hearing from y’all.

  10. Dan CasaliSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:56 am #

    Thanks for the report, Pat. Best I’ve found thus far online.
    Could you tell me how Mermaid’s Landing fared? I fear the worst. I’m old Floridian but in Idaho now. Cedar Key will always be special.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 4:33 am #

      I’m not sure how they fared. When driving by there it is still the quaint little place we are used to seeing however, water is tricky.

  11. Lori SchleedeSeptember 4, 2016 at 3:25 am #

    Pat and Cindy,
    I read this story tonight to Jeffrey before bed. Thank you for sharing. We are glad you are okay. What a horrifying event.
    Your words are perfect (we laughed as we could totally relate to your experience) but also made us melancholy as we know the fine folks you mention, and the devastation the storm caused.
    I want to share this with everyone who had texted me these last few days. Hope to visit your new pub soon. 🙏❤️

  12. DinnaSeptember 4, 2016 at 4:28 am #

    Amazing! The power of Mother Nature.
    I love Cedar Key… The people of north Florida have the power to rebuild her…

  13. Lonna BearSeptember 4, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Reading this from my home in Michigan. I did not flee the storm, but had planned to spend the holiday with my family for quite some time. Your story and accompanying photography have moved me to tears. Now I just want to return to my Island home. Thank you Pat.

  14. Linda AndersonSeptember 4, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    A well-written but heartbreaking story. Thanks for painting a picture of this little town’s ordeal, I could feel the intense pressure as I read your story. Love my Gulf of Mexico but she’s a force. Good luck to all in getting your businesses and lives back in order.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Thank You!!

  15. SusanSeptember 4, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    Compelling true story..I couldn’t stop reading…glad you and your family( doggies too) were ok.amazing how God works!….don’t give up on Cedar Key…it needs people like you . 🙂

  16. PollySeptember 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    I keep reading this account. Over and over. If I didn’t have kids, I would have wanted to be there, too. Until I read and saw this. I think the other amazing piece is that CK wasn’t even hit by the eye, therefore avoiding even more wind and rain. While obviously I hope CK is never hit with another storm, if it were- EVERYONE should be required to read this before deciding to stay it out. I’m glad y’all are ok. I’m glad Heath has the experience and heart which got y’all out. Wow.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Yeah, we learned a lot of things in this storm, one being that this town is amazing when it comes to pulling together

  17. Dan HartSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Pat, great documentation in word and photography. Thank you! Glad you and Cindy made it through safely.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Thank you Dan!

  18. Jackie LarkinSeptember 4, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    I live in Ocala and this is the first I’ve seen or heard about the destruction in Cedar Key! I’m so sorry for your loss of material things. Looking forward to your report after you’ve rebuilt/remodeled. 😊 💚

  19. Kathy BackielSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    Breaks my heart – I love Cedar Key. I know Cedar Key is strong and will rebuild and be better than ever. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.

  20. D. HughesSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank goodness you both survived. I will visit in two weeks for pirate fest to see all of you courageous folk that endured the storm. Huzzah!

  21. jodiSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    i am so sorry. i love cedar key so much. when i am there i never want to leave. i cry for everyone that has made thisisland community their home. please do not leave, rebuild. Please always allow there to be a cedar key. we see how some people have left and closed their businesses. but that begets other people to leave. If everyone stays and re-build others will come. i love you guys. i love being there. such a unique place

  22. Jennifer NealySeptember 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    Wow, what a crazy story! I didn’t even realize how hard Cedar Key was hit until I saw Veronica post a link to your story. So glad you are safe and that you have such awesome friends to come rescue you. I hope you at least got a picture of Jim Cantore at your store!

  23. Carolyn Ten BroeckSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    You have painted a picture of fear, devastation, loss and HOPE with your e words. I was lost in the imagery as I read, shaking my head and fighting back tears. Thank you for sharing. My prayers are with you and all of Cedar Key in weeks and months ahead.
    PS Heath Davis is something else!

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

      Yes, Heath is one of those friends I will have at my side for the rest of my life!

  24. Teri MathisSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Was so moved by your story Pat! Thank you for the vivid descriptions of your harrowing experience. I wrote the book, Notes from Faraway Inn, and my heart is heavy knowing that the FI is closed indefinitely. Cedar Key is so so special and your story confirms it yet again.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

      I hope that is not true, that place is a staple around here!!

  25. Donna KnoblockSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m amazed by your writing of your experience with Hermine. We are so sorry for the damage & loss of material things residence of Cedar Key have gone through, and Blessings of lives saved. I understand the fury of wind & water that comes with hurricanes as I grew up in Miami. I know you all will come together & rebuild your little slice of Heaven. Take care & prayers to all.

  26. Kathy SturrSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Bernie just shakes his head as I sit here and cry into my phone in this beautiful woodland setting. I am so so sorry fo Cedar Key but glad all are safe in spite of the massive damage. I know CK is as tough as they come and will pull together and bounce back better than ever! Nothing will deter us from coming back in Dec.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      Hopefully when you both return, you’ll not be able to see the scars!!

  27. HollySeptember 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Thank you for this; great writing and a compelling account of what happened on the ground there. I’m one of the sailors that comes up in early May for the Small Boat Meet, staying at Island Place and I’m heartbroken for you guys. But, we’re all pulling for Cedar Key to recover and seeing what we can do to help.

  28. Arno & Lynda HammSeptember 4, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    You’ve written an amazing story of everything Cedar Key represents. We visit with friends, Jim & Karen Decker, as often as we can. We’ve stayed at motels, walked many of the streets, frequented the shops, ate at the restaurants, met many people who made us feel like a part of the community. It’s our favorite place to visit. To see & read the destruction was heartbreaking. To know the love of the people for their community is to know that they will all come together to restore Cedar Key to its quaint, beautiful, peaceful self. Our love to all.

  29. Alice Werner DaviesSeptember 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    I guess you had to live it to write it, But I hope you never have another sequel! God bless all my friends and family of Cedar Key, I feel your pain!

  30. Anny WSeptember 4, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    This story is filled with all the little things that become so big when a storm hits. Hurricane parties vs store openings, flushing toilets vs sewer pressure backup, beach waves vs storm surge, etc. You described it all so well, this should be a must read by anyone considering riding out a “little” storm. It makes me so humble to see the pictures and read your story, knowing how small we humans really are compared to mother nature vs how BIG a friend can be. Reading about a Mayor that really takes his job seriously with care for his home island and reading about all the volunteers helping with the aftermath cleanup reminds me that as small as humans are they can have big hearts and compassion. I think the video that really impressed me was the one showing how fast the water was rushing in a real eye opener. Excellent writing.

  31. Jeff DwyerSeptember 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    Hi Pat & Cindy,

    We’d just met you before we headed north in May, and we were pleased to see you settling into Polly’s old gallery space and opening another gallery and place to share food and drink. Our friends Carla and Chad sent us the link to the blog. What a great account you’ve written about what happened to our friends on the island. We’ve forwarded it to many others. As usual, Mayor Heath and Joli are there when you need them. We’re so happy to hear that you, the dogs and others weren’t hurt. All the best,

    Jeff & Elizabeth

  32. Heather LawsonSeptember 4, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

    How amazing that you were able to go out, with your camera in hand, weather the storm and tell about your personal experience in this historic moment in time for Cedar Key.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

      Thank you Heather. Luckily I had the camera covered with a ThinkTank Hydrophobia cover that you will see many of the news crews using to cover their video cameras. We got a few of them years back after shooting in a massive storm that drenched and ruined a camera. They are worth their weight in GOLD

  33. Marilyn HayesSeptember 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    Hello, Pat. Though I do not think we have met during any of my frequent visits to Cedar Key, I met you virtually in your blog this morning. Touched by your prose and photographic skill as was some other commenters, I now share a comparably minute amount of your close-to-terrifying experience. My 15 year journey as a professional (income producing!) photographer was preceded by working as a photographer for a newspaper and I long held to the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Your story could not been as complete without both!
    I thought of all of you in Cedar Key this morning in church, especially while singing the last song ” “Always”. Here’s a link to it if you’re interested.
    Thank you for sharing!
    (Rosewood homeowner but not resident)

  34. Marilyn HayesSeptember 4, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    Whoops… Meant to attach this!

  35. Liz BrownleeSeptember 4, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    I had heard that Cedar Key was hit hard, but this story really paints the picture.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you and your family are safe. And next time, Little must go on the boat first!

    • Pat BonishSeptember 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

      HAHAHA! Little always has to lead the way!!

  36. Rick JoyceSeptember 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    Exceptional commentary Pat. When I called our managers at our Olde Fenimore Mill unit, I was stunned to find that our weekend renters had stayed and that they had electricity. So I was a bit unprepared when I finally heard from Darlene and Brian about the devastation that befell the Big Deck and the Market. Hang tough (and I’m sure Debbie would have been yelling at me too).

  37. Angela ZockSeptember 4, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Thank you Pat for sharing your experience! Dear LORD what a day….what a night. Your words…and thoughts turned INTO words describe so perfectly the reality of “island life”…and exactly what we feel…the decisions we bounce through…and the redundancy we feel prepping over and over for the storms that MISS….which cause us to feel nonchalant on the one that DOES hit!!! As you know I have lived here a short time but weathered many storms and hurricanes on other islands. This place…this community…is a blessing. I said before this even…”I shall NEVER leave this island”…..I feel even stronger emotions and an even stronger bond and sense of commitment to Cedar Key. Friends become family….hands and hearts reach out!!! THANK YOU HEATH for all you do!!! You make us all so very proud and your compassion goes further than words could express!

  38. SteveSeptember 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    A gripping account of what you went through. A genuinely inspiring story about your caring community. I’ve never been to Cedar Key but this story makes me want to visit if for no other reason than to meet some of these special people. What astounds me as someone in Tallahassee still without power (lost it about 10:30 the night of the storm) is how you had power throughout the storm. But I’d much rather not have power than have to deal with flood water and its aftermath. Best wishes to you and your community!

  39. Phyllis LoweSeptember 4, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    Wow! What a story; what images they bring; and memories! We hunkered down in N. Fort Myers to take what Hurricane Donna threw at us over 50 years ago as she came in who knows how hard as the wind towers blew away! But though our roofing went and the house was almost totaled, our neighbors rescued my daughter and I as the wind tried to tear the grass out of the ground. We had nothing like the events you guys went through! I am so glad to read your story, or I would not comprehend the devastation! We only had a tree split and fall on a storage house further into Levy County! May God help you all! It so depends on the wind surge and the working with the tides how bad stuff gets. Do me a favor; come inland for shelter next time! But then, this combination of events may not happen in another 50 years! We lifting you in prayer!

  40. Sandy kingSeptember 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Know Cedar Key well and she has had many a storm but the people who choose to live there are the tough ones among us….We really enjoyed the story and pictures , being born and raised in st .Augustine and Daytona beach we understand having been there a few times ourselves but truly enjoyed your story and pictures you have a fine sense for both …thank you for reminding us of our own history on the coast line of FLORIDA

  41. Jule SwartzSeptember 4, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

    Our hearts go out to your community. My husband and I have visited and stayed at the Cedar Key B&B. We love your community with its rich history. We lost our home when we lived in Homestead to Andrew so we know what you’re all going through. Day by day, little by little you clean up and rebuild. You learn lessons that might help when the next storm comes around and let’s face it, we live in Florida and it’s a risk every season but I wouldn’t live in any other state. You will come back stronger and wiser.

  42. Desiree BarbazonSeptember 4, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

    Love Cedar Key and your rendition of the effects of Hermine. Am glad to hear there were no fatalities and everyone is working to rebuild / repair .
    Love the community response to those in need.
    God Bless all if you …..

  43. Anna ThorntonSeptember 5, 2016 at 1:03 am #

    I laughed! I cried, while reading this story. We have been going to Cedar Key for the past Six years, sometimes three times a month, or take a short drive to the island as we are about eighty three miles away. I’ve volunteered for events but this will be my first time for Invasion of the Pirates! We usually stay at Island place and love all the people there, or at Natures Landing, Pam is very sweet. We have 8 grown children an 19 grandchildren needless to say we have to get three rooms at each place. I love Cedar Key and drove over to check on my Island! It hurt so bad to see all the damage but I know each of you will work together to bring our Island back that’s what family is all about!

  44. Matthew FryerSeptember 5, 2016 at 1:34 am #

    I live in Kentucky, and do nature photography and kayaking as a hobby. Came down a few years back just to see what I could get into, and fell in love with Cedar Key and it’s wonderful people. Stayed at the Low Key Inn the first visit, and met ya’ll. You were great hosts, and I really enjoyed talking photography with such gifted photographers. I’ve been back several times for two week visits since, and feel as though the island is now a part of me. I watched the weather channel in horror the other night. Thanks so much for the detailed accounting of what happened…. I’m heart broken to see the extent of the damage. Grateful to hear there was not a lot of injuries. Sending prayers your way…. Wish there was more I could offer. Can’t wait till make it back to what has truly become my favorite place on earth…

  45. Mary Ann Turner JohnstonSeptember 5, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    I wish you would move to NW Arkansas & write for the Dem- Gazette. Such a pleasure to read your story even though feeling your distress. Your grammar is impeccable! Thanks for recounting. So little on the new about Hermine. Best wishes.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 5, 2016 at 2:31 am #

      Thank you so much for the compliments!!!! We LOVE NW Arkansas!!!!!

  46. Casey PalmerSeptember 5, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    We read your incredible story and are deeply saddened. Cedar key has been our vacation spot for many years. Our home away from home. We want to come and help with anything that is needed, just don’t know who to contact or where we should began. We have a tractor and can bring it for clean up. Please let us know. God bless your family and beautiful Cedar Key.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 5, 2016 at 2:30 am #

      Thank You for your concern and offer. Please contact the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce and they can point you in the right direction

  47. Kenneth Nelson IISeptember 5, 2016 at 3:04 am #

    Brother Randy Nelson ! I pray to God that you all are okay ! This is beyond devastating Please let me know that you all are doing okay ! I am truly sorry for what has taken place because of this Hurrican Hermine ! This is your brother Ken, so please respond, your family (siblings) need to know as well as myself !

  48. Noel StasiakSeptember 5, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    My wife and I have visited Cedar Key several times, we enjoy the cozy atmosphere, the small town friendliness, and especially fishing from the concrete pier. Our hearts go out to all affected by the storm and know that we will be visiting again. Storms come and go but the spirit of the people remain. Good luck to all, see you soon.
    Noel & Leigh
    St. Louis, MO.

  49. Sam MorrowSeptember 5, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    So glad everyone and the dogs are safe!!!

  50. Margaret WilderSeptember 5, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    Pat, thanks for sharing your incredible experience. We didn’t stay in Cedar Key the night Hermine came through because we know that with high tides and wind things can get scary. We were here during the 1950 hurricane and remember all about high winds and water. The pictures and video was fantastic.

  51. DebiSeptember 6, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    Wow! So glad u and a Cindy are okay. So sorry for all your damage. How did Low Key Hide-A-Way do?

    • Pat BonishSeptember 6, 2016 at 2:07 am #

      Low-Key did not fare too well. I believe they had 30″ of water through the entire place. Tiki Bar survived like a champ, but the motel will have to be completely refurbished 🙁

  52. Chris PietrasSeptember 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    wow – what a story. I have been to Cedar Key many a time over the past 30 years that my folks lived in Florida, and I’ve met a couple of the people in your story – Jolie and her Mom many years back – as I went to college with Jolie’s sister Dace.

    Your reporting made me feel the anguish that the entire town was going through, but then also the strength that followed.

    • Pat BonishSeptember 6, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

      Chris, that family is beyond kind and caring! Glad you got to meet them first hand!

  53. Doug HaySeptember 7, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    Great story and pix. Wish I had you on staff when I ran my newspaper. Best wishes rebuilding. Hope insurance covers..

  54. Steve-oSeptember 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    Nice account, thanks. Our family has stayed at Miss Etta’s place up the hill every year for some time. So we know all the places and was able to really visualize that night right along with you. Your family and friends are what matters! Cedar Key Strong!

  55. Christin KuckSeptember 8, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Having lived on the west coast of Florida in Pinellas County since 1968, I’ve seen my fair share of flooding. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes swept by the Tampa Bay area, didn’t even hit, and our house was flooded. The news reports, which aren’t as accurate as they are now, predicted that the storm wouldn’t phase us. It was too far out in the Gulf. Wrong. A firetruck came by at 3:00 AM and told everyone to evacuate. By the point the water had risen so high, we couldn’t get our cars out of the drive way. Two of our cars had to have engines replaced, back when replace an engine instead of the car wasn’t such a big deal.

    I was 10 years old, and this left a huge impression on me. My mother had nightmares for years afterward.

    When I was 20, and only a few months married, a no name storm breezed through and flooded our apartment. This was another one where our land lord came to the apartment and work us up in the middle of the night to tell us the water was up to our door. It didn’t stop there.

    I now own a house sixty feet above sea level and am a mere five minutes from the beach. I will never live in a flood zone again.

    I’m glad that you and your wife and the pups weathered the storm without injury. The business has insurance and can be replaced. Your lives cannot.

  56. JodeeSeptember 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    So very glad you and Cindy and the pups are all fine. What a harrowing experience! I’m sure the post was cathartic, thanks for sharing such a well written account of both a scary night and a resilient community. Sending hugs and strength for a quick recovery.

  57. Glenn Arnette, lllSeptember 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    What a sad moment in time and the article was shocking! The Flagler Six will never forget the great times with you and Cedar Key. We will return and we know that the strength of the people there will bring the spirit back and all will be better!

    Please say hello to all of our friends and know that we care!

    Glenn Arnette, lll

  58. Joyce ArrietaSeptember 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    My prayers are with the entire community of Cedar Key. My prayer is that recovery and the rebuilding will start soon. I share this link with all my friends that I meet at the Seafood Festival years ago. Thank you Pat…for the sad but wonderful account of just how scary and frighting a hurricane truly can be. Thank God you and your family are safe.

  59. Susan Flutie, Jensen Beach,FLSeptember 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    Glad I found this site. Cedar Key was one of our favorite motorcycle destinations. We were just thinking of planning another this Fall. Thank you for the pictures as it answers a lot of my questions on the damage. It’s sad the media didn’t return to bring your areas damage to everyone’s attention. How is the cemetery and the Hidden Tiki Bar with all the bottles?

    • Pat BonishSeptember 13, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      Cemetery just lost a few trees which were cleaned up the next morning. Tiki Bar only lost two bottles due to the door frame swelling and cracking a few bottles around the edge of the frame

      • Susan Flutie, Jensen Beach,FLSeptember 14, 2016 at 12:16 am #

        Thanks. See you in the Spring!

  60. Rebecca WithersAugust 8, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    Reading this again, almost a year later, has me crying uncontrollably. My husband and I have only met you and Cindy one time, it was your first year at Low Key, the Tiki bar was just getting up and going. We had stayed for a long weekend, from Jacksonville. Not only are your photos amazing, the way you write makes me feel like I am watching a movie.

    We had reservations at Island Place , with our kids for family vacation when the hurricane visited. Us being Floridians as well, thought all would be well and the storm would pass by. Watching our local news team (News 4 Jax) filming from Cedar Key was heartbreaking, my husband has visited Cedar Key for over 45 years, it was so sad to watch what was unfolding.

    We finally visited in January this year, things were still out of place. We are visiting again in a couple of weeks, unfortunately unable to stay at Island Place, but looking forward to visiting your studio!

    Peace and blessings!

    • Pat BonishAugust 9, 2017 at 1:43 am #

      Thank you for the message Rebecca. I’m glad you came back and I look forward to you seeing the new Studio on your next visit!

      Hopefully we can keep the spirit alive for you and what you remember


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