When Hilda Godley went on vacation with her family to the Caribbean right before Hurricane Matthew swept through the Lowcountry, she said they didn’t know a storm was coming that could cause significant damage to their restaurant, the Shrimp Shack on Sea Island Parkway on St. Helena Island.
“Apparently ... the Shrimp Shack was completely surrounded by saltwater,” she said. “(The Shrimp Shack and my parents’ home) apparently looked like islands, is all we can figure from the waterlines.”
The Shrimp Shack, a landmark restaurant that’s been on St. Helena Island since 1978, reopened Nov. 16 after significant damage repairs in the wake of the hurricane, according to Godley. She said she, her husband, and her sister, Julia Madlinger, worked with friends, family and hired help to get the restaurant up and running.
Godley’s parents, who own the restaurant and live behind the Shrimp Shack, were completely overwhelmed by the amount of damage, she said.
“They just looked at it like, what are they going to do,” she said.
A waist-high water line can still be seen on the exterior of the building from where the marsh water rushed in, Godley said. The water ruined the air-conditioning system and caused the floorboards to warp.
The reopening was held off for so long because some of the damage was not covered by insurance as hoped. Godley said she and her family had to make repairs themselves when they found out their insurance wouldn’t cover the reconstruction performed by hired workers, but they also had plenty of help from friends and even local YMCA volunteers.
Godley said it was gratifying to finally reopen and to have regulars come back. She said the restaurant would be open for lunch, as usual, and was back to serving a full menu.
“We were ready to go back to cooking,” she said.