Flooded popular Clay County restaurant reopens for business after Nicole leaves surprising aftermath

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A popular Clay County restaurant has reopened Saturday after experiencing flooding from Tropical Storm Nicole.

Whitey’s Fish Camp -- a seafood restaurant in Fleming Island that sits right off Swimming Pen Creek -- is no stranger to flooding. The managers told News4JAX that although they did prepare for Nicole’s arrival, they didn’t prepare as much as they did for Hurricane Ian and learned that wasn’t the best choice.

According to Clay County emergency management officials, the county received about two-and-a-half inches of rain from the storm, which caused excessive flooding in various areas such as Green Cove Springs, Doctors Lake and Orange Park.

The tiki bar was flooded, and water covered the docks and parking lot including the outside deck.

Along with many other residents, Whitey’s Fish Camp managers aren’t the only ones to underestimate Nicole’s impact.

“Definitely not as prepared as we were for Ian because it was just a tropical storm. But all of our docks were submerged. We experienced higher flooding with Nicole than we did in Ian, so it almost got to our upper dining deck as well. We’re very surprised,” Manager Danielle Lawley said.

Despite the surprising aftermath, the restaurant did not sustain major damage. The floodwaters receded in time for the restaurant to reopen on Saturday, which was a relief for customers and musicians who’ve been coming to Whitey’s for years.

“We grew up with this establishment, and we’re happy to have it back up and running. We love it,” said Mike Cook, a musician at Whitey’s.

Although Nicole caught the restaurant off guard, Lawley said they will be more precautious the next time a storm comes around.

“Even if it’s a storm, we’re going to be prepared,” Lawley said.

Other areas of Clay County were also returning back to normal as floodwaters started to recede. Clay County residents were out-and-about in Spring Park in Green Cove Springs on Saturday, which wasn’t the case Thursday because the area was entirely flooded.

A lot of residents were surprised by Nicole’s impact since it was a tropical storm. They said they did not expect a storm of that magnitude to cause so much havoc.

“River flooding is common, but many didn’t think a Nicole would pack this power,” Derrick Surrat said. “I thought we were just going to get rain and wind but that’s mother nature.”

News4JAX Insiders also sent in images of the flooding showing water pouring over sidewalks and flooding boat ramps.

On Friday night, things started to get back to normal as the community enjoyed food trucks in the park.


Spring park green cove springs

Green Cove Springs

On Doctors Lake


Flooding at Doctors Lake boat ramp

Orange Park

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