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Stormless for 28 Years, Cedar Key Prepares for Andrea’s Landfall

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Cedar Key is a city long vulnerable to bad weather because of its coastal location.

Low-lying areas in the town can have flooding, with docks and other structures or buildings possibly experiencing damage. City Commissioner Pat O’Neal, who was also an emergency management director, said the city has made preparations and everything is ready in case the storm becomes serious.

O’Neal noted it has been a while since Cedar Key was hit by a bad storm.

“Cedar key gets a storm about once every 19 years. We’re now coming up on 28,” he said, pausing and chuckling. “Statistically, it could happen, but you sit there and say ‘I hope it doesn’t happen.”

Structures in the water such as floating docks could be destroyed or float away after being hit by rough seas. These types of structures have to be moved from high impact areas or tied down.

Three storm surge poles in the city are useful to tell how high the tide is and if it has risen. They’re large poles with numbers at different intervals, similar to a ruler.

“What they are is a visual representation of where the water level would be on a tide or a storm surge or anything like that,” O’Neal said.

As hurricane season gets underway, Cedar Key’s clam shop owners are preparing for the worst.

Shawn Stephenson is co-owner of Southern Cross Sea Farms, a clam wholesaler in Cedar Key. He’s already doing things differently by not planting fresh clams that could get washed away. The smaller storms do not worry Stephenson, as those actually help keep clams healthy.

“We’re kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature,” he said. “It’s not as if we can bring them up real quick and bring them to a protected pond or something like that. That would not be feasible.”

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