Like a lot of business owners and managers in St. Augustine, Cindy Stavely had no idea what she was going to see when she visited the bayfront Saturday morning.
What she found when she arrived at the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum, where she is a manager, was concerning but not heartbreaking. She assessed the flood damage in the museum and issues at the Colonial Quarter next door.
And then she got to work cleaning up the mess and hiring people to fix what she couldn’t. By about noon Saturday, the museum was dried out and preparations were made to reopen the attraction, which happened Wednesday.
“When I got down here on Saturday morning, I knew everything was going to be OK,” she said. “I knew it was not going to be long cleanup and things were going to bounce back really fast.”
Stavely was at the museum Thursday with other tourism industry leaders speaking to the media about how the pirate museum and many other attractions, hotels and restaurants are back and ready for business just days after the storm swamped businesses and homes in St. Augustine and the rest of the county.
“I had a lot of phone calls Monday and Tuesday, I was here all day,” she said. “There were a ton of people calling to ask if we were open. I said, ‘We’re going to be open on Wednesday. Come see us.’”
That’s the general message tourism officials are trying to get out to people beyond the immediate area: Come visit because we’re open.
Most people who live here have returned to at least a somewhat normal routine, but there are worries St. Augustine will be considered a disaster area by potential visitors.