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‘I have never seen this in my life’ – Irish pub owner standing his ground as Hurricane Ian hits Florida

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Seán Rice and wife Áine outside their pub The Salty Shamrock in Florida as they weather Hurricane Ian

Seán Rice and wife Áine outside their pub The Salty Shamrock in Florida as they weather Hurricane Ian

A boat near Seán Rice's pub in Florida

A boat near Seán Rice's pub in Florida

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Seán Rice and wife Áine outside their pub The Salty Shamrock in Florida as they weather Hurricane Ian

An Irish publican is choosing to hunker down in Florida home despite government evacuations in face of Hurricane Ian.

Seán Rice, a publican from Omagh Co Tyrone, moved to Florida in 2000 and has now owned the Salty Shamrock Pub in Apollo Beach for the past seven years.

Just south of Tampa, Mr Rice, his wife Áine Rice and his two sons Tomás and Seán Óg were in the path of the Category 5 hurricane as it hit Florida’s southwest coast, to watch over their pub and fishing boat.

“We were evacuating as of yesterday [Tuesday], which was a mandatory evacuation, but there was a slight turn in the hurricane yesterday. My problem is that if I leave, how do I get back? So, I decided to hunker down here at the house,” Mr Rice said on Thursday evening.

“They advised us to evacuate about four days ago. Basically, if you do not evacuate it means if you call 911, they are not going to respond. We had a place booked in Orlando for three nights, but we opted to stay.

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King Point resident Maria Esturilho is escorted by her son Tony Esturilho as they leave behind the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

King Point resident Maria Esturilho is escorted by her son Tony Esturilho as they leave behind the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

The entrance to the closed Walt Disney theme park as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida (John Raoux/AP)

The entrance to the closed Walt Disney theme park as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida (John Raoux/AP)

A man stands in the middle 7th Street in Ybor City a few hours before the high winds from Hurricane Ian hit Tampa (Willie J Allen Jr/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

A man stands in the middle 7th Street in Ybor City a few hours before the high winds from Hurricane Ian hit Tampa (Willie J Allen Jr/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

Access roads to the Sunshine Skyway bridge are blocked off as the span is closed due to high winds from Hurricane Ian (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Access roads to the Sunshine Skyway bridge are blocked off as the span is closed due to high winds from Hurricane Ian (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Firefighters rescue a woman from a car trapped in water in Naples, Florida, U.S., during Hurricane Ian. Reuters

Firefighters rescue a woman from a car trapped in water in Naples, Florida, U.S., during Hurricane Ian. Reuters

An airplane overturned by a likely tornado produced by the outer bands of Hurricane Ian at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Florida (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

An airplane overturned by a likely tornado produced by the outer bands of Hurricane Ian at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Florida (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

A firefighter carrying gear in water in Naples, Florida (Naples Fire Department/AP)

A firefighter carrying gear in water in Naples, Florida (Naples Fire Department/AP)

David Dellinger with the National Weather Service surveys the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

David Dellinger with the National Weather Service surveys the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Zuram Rodriguez surveys the damage around her mobile home in Davie, Florida (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Zuram Rodriguez surveys the damage around her mobile home in Davie, Florida (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Brianna Renas, 17, inspects a fallen palm tree outside her home in Cape Coral after riding out Hurricane Ian with her family (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/AP)

Brianna Renas, 17, inspects a fallen palm tree outside her home in Cape Coral after riding out Hurricane Ian with her family (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times/AP)

A truck pulls a man on a kayak on a low-lying road after flooding in Key West, Florida (Mary Martin/AP)

A truck pulls a man on a kayak on a low-lying road after flooding in Key West, Florida (Mary Martin/AP)

A firefighter carrying gear in water in Naples, Florida (Naples Fire Department/AP)

A firefighter carrying gear in water in Naples, Florida (Naples Fire Department/AP)

David Dellinger with the National Weather Service surveys the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

David Dellinger with the National Weather Service surveys the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Ivan Mendoza begins to repair damage at his mobile home in Davie, Florida (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Ivan Mendoza begins to repair damage at his mobile home in Davie, Florida (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

Waves crash along the Ballast Point Pier ahead of Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Florida (Chris O’Meara/AP)

Waves crash along the Ballast Point Pier ahead of Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Florida (Chris O’Meara/AP)

An uprooted tree in a shopping centre car park in Cooper City, Florida (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

An uprooted tree in a shopping centre car park in Cooper City, Florida (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Heather Danenhower from Duke Energy walks around utility trucks in The Villages of Sumter County, Florida (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

Heather Danenhower from Duke Energy walks around utility trucks in The Villages of Sumter County, Florida (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

People walk where water is receding out of Tampa Bay due to a negative surge ahead of Hurricane Ian (Steve Helber/AP)

People walk where water is receding out of Tampa Bay due to a negative surge ahead of Hurricane Ian (Steve Helber/AP)

People walk where water is receding out of Tampa Bay due to a negative surge ahead of Hurricane Ian (Steve Helber/AP)

People walk where water is receding out of Tampa Bay due to a negative surge ahead of Hurricane Ian (Steve Helber/AP)

A King Point resident looks through her broken window as a man boards up another broken window from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

A King Point resident looks through her broken window as a man boards up another broken window from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

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King Point resident Maria Esturilho is escorted by her son Tony Esturilho as they leave behind the damage from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Florida (Carline Jean /South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

“We still currently have power, we have not had the direct hit yet, probably another two hours before it comes, but we are looking at about 80 mile an hour winds.

“I have never seen this before. We are just worried about the water surge - when all that water comes back - because if it goes to a 10-foot surge we are all in trouble,” Mr Rice told Independent.ie.

Mr Rice lives in a one-level house six to seven feet above the water level.

“We reckon the surge will hit us in two days. It was low tide this morning, my water normally goes down to about a low tide of two feet. Right now, there is no water at all,” he said.

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“My pool has already come up about two feet from the rainwater alone. If it overflows, it will also come into the house.

“I have never seen this in my life. All the water is gone, it has all been sucked out. There is a huge boat over there and it is just sitting on the bottom of the canal.

“The storm surge is the one that does all the harm.”

As for preparation, Mr Rice has stocked up on supplies such as food and water, as well as readying a non-electric grill – needed since he has no backup generator.

“We have stocked up. One of the transformers in the neighbourhood just blew up about 45 minutes ago. A lot of my staff have already lost their power.

“I have got a smoker grill, not electric. I have ice and coolers. And then I have another grill in the garage if needed. I have water. We do not have a backup generator. But we have enough to get us through.

“We are anticipating losing power for about four or five days,” he said.

As for his pub the Salty Shamrock, Mr Rice is afraid for the wreckage Hurricane Ian could inflict.

“I just hope my restaurant does not lose power. We were there last night, and we boarded up the bar. I have got outdoor seating and stage - that is all going to go get blown away. There is not a lot we can do,” he said.

“Just hopefully we can open up and clear up the mess and the wreckage. Apart from that, I just hope everybody is safe,” he said.


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