After Omar Federation Cleanup Begins as Businesses Repair and Rebuild

By John Denny Observer Reporter
(Nevis) ” From just sweeping up a little sand to near-complete loss, Hurricane Omar left a wake of destruction as it brushed along the western shore of Nevis. Reports from hoteliers, restaurateurs and real estate developers show a wide array of damages from Mother Nature’s latest lash, which struck in the early hours of Thursday, Oct. 16. In Charlestown, the Octagon Bar and Grill had its pool table out of commission for a few days and its pool shack suffered a little damage, but the waterfront establishment was soon up and running for business. The newly reopened Pinney’s Beach Club only had a bit of sand to clean up. Next door at the Double Deuce, much of the beach was washed away and the restaurant and bar now sit much closer to the ocean. It had been closed for a few weeks for the off-season break and had only been back open for a week when the storm hit. The proprietor felt lucky at the lack of damage “We really didn’t have much damage to speak of,” said owner Lyndeta Martin. “We spent about $1,600 on a backhoe to come in and push the sand back into the sea, but the new roof we put on during the summer break is in good shape. There was cleaning up to do and many of our friends and customers came down the next day to help out. I feel very blessed. If a person had caused this I would be mad, but this is an act of nature. You can’t help that, so I don’t get too stressed about it. We live forever, until we die. If the sea wants to take this place, what can I do about it?” The Four Seasons is closed. An initial press release put out by someone in their corporate office said they were planning on opening by Nov. 1, but tourists attempting to book a room are being told they hope to be open by Christmas. Security has been keeping non-employees away from the property, but from the beach, a flurry of activity can be seen and employee parking at the Four Seasons has been at a premium for the past several days. At Oualie Beach, the only indication left of the storm is the missing section of the dock where the Sea Bridge car ferry smashed through on that stormy night. “The cleanup cost us $20,000 and the estimate for repairing the dock is $110, 000,” said co-owner John Yearwood. “We have had no cancellations as a result of this storm. There are fewer bookings than last year, but that is a result of the economic downturn, not the hurricane.” John’s brother Alistair also had a positive outlook about the effects of the storm. “The biggest impact our guests felt was the loss of internet service between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.,” he said. Even though the Oualie Beach boat dock was destroyed, Alistair said hurricanes actually bring sand to their resort and that over the many years they have been in business; the beach has come and gone more than once. Storms bring the sand north and the natural currents take it back south. The currents take much longer to move sand than storms and Oualie Beach is in a fortunate geographic location on Nevis. It has stood through many storms remaining open for business, Alistair said. Sugar Mill Estates saw no damage according to project manager Matt Skinner, Director at Cliffdwellers development. “We had almost nothing here. It washed some sand away, but that always comes back,” he said. Zenith or Cades Bay Development reported some loss of beach and spent about $4,000 cleaning up, according to their General Manager Christian Weinpahl. “Gary Colt of Coconut Grove Restaurant lost a pool pump and two air conditioning units at $2,096 and $3,144 respectively. He also paid $7,860 for labor and a backhoe. He was closed for three days, but has resumed business. He suggested the NIA could help recovering businesses on Nevis by reducing or eliminating the duty paid on items needed for repairs caused by the storm. He is also concerned with the ripple effects of the Four Seasons being closed. “We will survive and we aren’t laying any employees off, but with the Four Seasons being closed, they may be working less hours,” he said. “If the government really wants businesses to be open to start bringing the money back in, they should give us some concessions. Hotels don’t pay duty. If I didn’t have to pay duty on all the things I need to make repairs and run my business, I would have more people working here.” Some were surprised at the lack of damage at the condos at Nelson Spring, because of the talk that the units were too close to the ocean. Appropriate architecture for a hurricane-prone region has saved structures throughout the Caribbean for years and this is clearly the case at Nelson Spring. Living space above an open parking area with the supporting foundation in line with the direction waves will strike, allows the sea’s destruction to flow under and through structures without destroying them. “The storm cost us about $15, 000,” said Deon Daniel of Deon and Associates, the developer at Nelson Spring. “We hired a backhoe to clean off the beach, pay for some labor to clean up and we had to buy a new pool pump. The only thing left to do is put topsoil back around a few plants. In five days we were done.” Sunshine’s Bar and Grill is open and survived very well, considering he had a shipwreck in his front of his business. The Sea Hustler ferry was beached at that site. Only three thatched dining huts out of eight remain between his restaurant and the sea. The broken hut and picnic table debris may have created enough of a breakwater to save the business from more mess. He is planning an After Omar Party this coming Sunday complete with drink specials. Chevy’s Calypso Bar and Grill is gone, for now. The structure was flattened and the contents scattered. The only thing relatively intact is the bathrooms, probably protected from the battering waves by the restaurant. Mother Nature’s wrath was the injury, but the insult came right after the storm. “People came and looted the place,” Chevy said. “I don’t mind what they drank. I gave away cases of drinks the next morning, that was from my heart, but people came down here early” right after the storm came through and took tables, chairs, appliances and my pots and pans. I worked hard to pay for those things. Now I have to rebuild and replace all that was stolen. It is like salt in a wound.” Chevy expects to spend at least $100,000 to open again in a few weeks. He would like help from the government to get started. “I wish they would help me replace the things that the natives stole,” he said. Construction has already started. Stakes and strings mark the boundary for the new bar-to-be, but not as close to the water as the last place. He plans to cater a party this weekend at the beach for all the friends and customers that have helped and will help with the continuing recovery effort. Although he is saddened at his loss, he remains positive. “I still have my two eyes, my two hands and my friends,” Chevy said. “That’s what is important” there’s a light at the end of the road.”