Iconic Hilton Head restaurant has flooded the last 2 years. Is it ready for Florence?

A Hudson’s worker sands a door as volunteers work to clean Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks after Tropical Storm Irma in 2017.
A Hudson’s worker sands a door as volunteers work to clean Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks after Tropical Storm Irma in 2017. File

Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks saw flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Tropical Storm Irma 2017. The restaurant’s owner says he is ready for Hurricane Florence.

The restaurant closed Wednesday ahead of Florence — allowing restaurant workers to evacuate. Hudson’s is locally owned and well-established as a favorite of locals and tourists.

Andrew Carmines said he is optimistic that Hurricane Florence won’t give Hilton Head the blow that storms in recent years have. He also feels the restaurant is better prepared, if the storm does come our way.

About 2 to 3 feet of water flooded Hudson’s entire building during Matthew. Its dock was destroyed and its packing house received damage. A year later, another 2 to 3 feet of water flooded the front dining room — along with 18 inches of water in the back dining room — during Irma.

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During cleanup after Irma, Carmines made a few changes to help reduce future flood damage.

This included removing a vinyl floor and replacing it with a 4-inch concrete slab. The extra height could keep some water out of the restaurant, Carmines said Thursday.

On Thursday, a team of workers was raising all of the kitchen equipment via cinder block in an attempt to reduce damage, Carmines said. He said the equipment will be raised about 14 inches.

It takes about a 10.6-foot tide for the restaurant to flood, Carmines said.

He said the new moon tide on Sunday was at 9 feet. Luckily, there was very little wind with that tide.

“If you get a 20 mph northeast wind and a 9-foot tide, we would have water in the bar for sure,” Carmines said. “The wind is really what pushes it in.”

Carmines said he is not as worried about Florence.

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“I am feeling much better right now than I ever did with either of those other two storms,” Carmines said. “Who knows, it could turn down the coast and hit us, but, if it did, we are better prepared than we were with the last two.”

Hudson’s has typically stayed open until right before storms have hit, Carmines said. He said he made the decision to let staff decide this time.

“The last couple years I kept saying, ‘We are going to stay open, and I got tired of eating my words,’” Carmines said.

It is sort of nice having the extra days that feel like a vacation, he admitted.

Yet, he sort of misses the community that comes together right before a storm.

“It is nice to be open and see everybody,” Carmines said. “All the local people and talk to them and have a camaraderie. That is one reason I wish we had the staff to stay open.”