Community rallies around businesses struggling after Matthew

Working together after the storm

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. --  Businesses along the Bayfront in St. Augustine braced for impact leading up to hurricane Matthew. 

Over on Charlotte Street, Trade Winds Lounge, established in 1951, stood in the line of fire as Matthew approached.

"My family owns the bar, I was two years old when I got here," said Janet Leonard, the owner of Trade Winds.  "I can’t talk right now, all of a sudden it’s just too emotional."

Speaking with us about the impact on her business and the consequent impact on the livelihood of her employees was not an easy topic.

"It's not just me. It's for everyone. We have like 15 employees here, they’re all out of work, they’re all out of money, they’re devastated, their homes are devastated, several of my employees lost everything they have," said Leonard.

As the Matthew crept closer, strengthening and speeding up, the view from Leonard’s storefront no longer looked like a street, but rather a lake. Matthew was about 50 miles off shore of St. Augustine by around 2 o'clock on the afternoon it hit the first coast. Her friend Richard Baker kayaked through the flooded streets documenting the devastation.

Now Leonard and her crew are dealing with its aftermath like everyone else, trying to rebuild, and hoping to re-open at the end of this week.

"This is all we have left, we had to rip out the couches, the band stand, the dance floor," said Leonard.

To get rid of the sewage smell inside of Trade Winds Lounge they had to rip out everything and start from scratch. Her early cost assessment for damage is upwards of $50,000, but she expects that to climb.

However, there is good news she was excited to share with us.

"The Colonial Quarter on St George Street has offered to put my employees to work and a few of the band members to work," said Leonard. "They are going to have a Trade Winds takeover from Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 o’clock to 10 ‘clock and allow my employees to take over, to try and help us out to get them back to work than I can."

If you would like to help St. Augustine in your own way, you can help by visiting Trade Winds when it re-opens and doing the same for all of the shops and businesses around town as they work to recover and afford their expenses. 

And this week -- Tuesday and Wednesday night you can help out her employees as they work to gain some money back, trying to get like back to normal. If we all help, we can all contribute to being #StAugustineStrong.


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