South Bryan landmark heavily damaged by Irma

Overall damage in the county less than from Matthew officials say

While much of Bryan County appeared to feel just a glancing blow from Hurricane Irma Monday morning, one south Bryan landmark took a major shot from the storm.

 

Fish Tales Restaurant was awash with water from the rising Ogeechee River Monday afternoon.

“The water did not start coming in until about two hours ago (11:30 a.m.). High tide today is at 1:35 p.m., which is right now, but because of the wind and everything, that water is still going to be coming in for another hour. I am guessing we are going to have about three feet in the building. The inside is already flooded, the kitchen is flooded, the floor is flooded,” owner Butch Broome said.

But it wasn’t just the restaurant that was damaged. Some of the piers and infrastructure at the adjacent Fort McAllister Marina were also destroyed by the storm.

“Northeast is our worst exposure for this marina. It can blow 90 mph in any direction but northeast, and this one was right down the pike northeast. We knew it was going to be bad. We actually have about 20-something boats anchored up river. And the Ford Plantation was gracious enough, they had some extra spaces, we have about eight boats up,” Broome said.

While no boats sank, some were damaged.

Despite the job facing him to get things ship-shape again, Broome was optimistic.

“I feel OK. I’ve got good insurance and nobody got hurt. We can rebuild all this. In the grand scope of life, if this is the biggest problem we’ve got today we’ll be in pretty good shape. If you know me, I will be open here again in a few days,” he said.

However, high water was not just a concern for Broome. Several other south Bryan County locations were also seeing a degree of flooding.

Freddy Howell, Bryan County emergency services director, said that just after high tide Monday afternoon water was flowing across Mill Hill Road, Belfast Keller Road on both sides of the Tivoli River and Fort McAllister Road near the Kinsale neighborhood. According to Bryan County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Maxwell, the Marker 107 restaurant at the Kilkenny Marina on the Ogeechee River was surrounded by water.

In Richmond Hill, one pickup truck driver, not familiar with the area, attempted to turn around and soon found himself several feet deep in water in a drainage canal when his truck slipped off the road.

The driver avoided any personal injury when nearby residents saw his distress and tossed him a rope and life jacket. His truck, however, was a different story.

Meanwhile, in north Bryan County Pembroke Public Safety Director William Collins said the city was still feeling the effects of Irma at 2:30 p.m.

“The storm is passing; we are still having some pretty strong squall lines come through. We are trying to cut the trees out of the road. We have some trees on houses. But from what I can tell right now, not as bad as Matthew. We are probably, I would guess, say, about 80 percent of the city is without power. Our water system is on generator power,” Collins said.

Despite that, based on his initial assessment Collins said he felt the city came out better than it did with Hurricane Matthew almost a year ago.

“Just riding around, I don’t see a great deal of damage. I see a few houses with some shingles missing. We have a lot tree limbs down, a few trees and maybe a house or two with a tree on them. There may be more but I haven’t seen them yet. Right now we are just trying to access what the damage is,” he said.

Like Collins in Pembroke, Richmond Hill Police were trying to assess the damage Monday afternoon.

“Right now we are asking people to stay off the streets,” RHPD Capt. Jason Sakelarios. “It is still a dangerous situation.”

Power outages in the south end of Bryan County were largely due to limbs and trees on power lines.

What I am seeing is not near as bad as Matthew,” Mark Bolton, Coastal Electric Vice President said. “We don’t have anywhere near the amount of poles down we did last year.”

At 3 p.m. Coastal had about 8,000 customers without power in Bryan County. By 6 p.m. 74 percent of the Coastal Electric Cooperative served homes in Bryan County had their power restored Bolton leaving 2,131 are still without power.

Our goal was to have 5000 homes restored by tonight,” Bolton said.

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