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Hurricane Sandy Washed Fish and Crabs Into Local Restaurants

We've been lucky here in South Florida the last few hurricane seasons. For years after Andrew and then again after Wilma, we all took even the hint of an approaching storm with all due seriousness. But it's been seven years since Wilma.

Sandy left mixed effects on Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Though we did not get the Frankenstorm that hit New York City,  Sandy did not completely spare all of Florida. Some restaurants saw major flooding and missed out on business for a day or three. One oceanfront restaurant had fish and crabs washing up on the door. And at least one beachfront eatery got extra business, thanks to people eager to come look at the storm. 

Here's what we found when we checked in with a few local restaurants: 

As the tide from the near-full moon rose and fell over the weekend, water gushed in and filled the parking lot at legendary Lake Worth beachfront diner John's G's before flowing out again. Nearby, the Ritz-Carlton also suffered some flooding that eroded the sand and damaged or swept away the landscaping. Down the street, a permanent lifeguard stand in Lantana was completely pulled away in a wave. 

"It was crazy. I've never seen anything like that," says John G's co-owner, Wendy Yarbrough. "I thought a water main had broken, the water came in so fast." 

Yarbrough says the restaurant actually benefited from Sandy. Because the storm wasn't that dangerous, curious people came in droves to the shoreline to see the weather and waves for themselves. So instead of being empty, John G  patrons had to wait for a table.

"We were so busy! People were wading through the water from the Ritz-Carlton. We don't take reservations so we just lined them up and served them as fast as we could."

Across the way at beachfront Dune Deck Cafe, the situation was a little more dire. The water wasn't just in the parking lot. The ocean swelled up into the restaurant and brought the sea life with it.

"We cleaned up a lot of sand we had fish and crabs because the ocean came

in," says chef John Calomiris. "We cleaned up a lot of sand, and thank god we had no structural

damage - the lifeguard stand disappeared."

There was a great deal of beach erosion as well, but by midday Monday, Calomiris says that Dune Deck was full of curious regular looking to get out of the house, talk to their neighbors and see the damage for themselves.

There are even rumors that Manalapan resident Yanni might have lost part of his seawall. But, all in all, South Florida escaped fairly unscathed once again, and our snowbirds are probably more grateful than ever that they made their yearly migration.

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Rebecca McBane is the arts and culture/food editor for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. She began her journalism career at the Sun Sentinel's community newspaper offshoot, Forum Publishing Group, where she worked as the editorial assistant and wrote monthly features as well as the weekly library and literature column, "Shelf Life." After a brief stint bumming around London's East End (for no conceivable reason, according to her poor mother), she returned to real life and South Florida to start at New Times as the editorial assistant in 2009. A native Floridian, Rebecca avoids the sun and beach at all costs and can most often be found in a well-air-conditioned space with the glow of a laptop on her face.
Contact: Rebecca McBane

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