Ybor City’s historic chickens are being kept safe from Hurricane Ian

Eight are staying in the J.C. Newman Cigar Company’s factory. One laid an egg.
Eight Ybor City chickens are being kept safe from Hurricane Ian at the J.C. Newman Cigar Company's factory in Ybor City.
Eight Ybor City chickens are being kept safe from Hurricane Ian at the J.C. Newman Cigar Company's factory in Ybor City. [ Courtesy of Drew Newman ]
Published Sept. 28, 2022

TAMPA ― A 25-foot section of gutters ripped off the J.C. Newman Cigar Company’s Ybor City factory as winds from Hurricane Ian blew through Tampa.

But Drew Newman is confident that his family’s 112-year-old brick structure adorned with a clock tower can survive the strongest of winds.

That’s good news for the temporary residents of Tampa’s last operational cigar factory, located at 2701 N 16th St.

Newman agreed to take in eight chickens until the hurricane blows through.

Each was being cared for at the neighboring Ybor Misfits Microsanctuary, a nonprofit run by Dylan Breese that nurses Ybor’s injured and sick feral chickens and takes in and rehomes domesticated ones abandoned in the Latin District.

Chickens have roamed free in Ybor since the 1800s.

“The Ybor Misfits flock is resting comfortably in the shipping department,” said Newman, general counsel for the multigenerational family-owned cigar company. “I had hopes and visions that the chickens would roam freely through our cigar factory, but Dylan thought it would be best if they stayed in coops.”

Others that had been staying in a coop were brought inside, according to the sanctuary’s Instagram page, “including the porch cat we inherited (who’s pretending to be a chicken until tomorrow).”

The sanctuary will have an added guest when Newman returns the birds.

“I just heard that one misfit hen laid an egg this morning,” Newman said. “As chickens are as much a part of the cultural fabric of Ybor City as cigars, it is our pleasure to shelter the Ybor misfits during the storm in our historic cigar factory. They are being great guests and are welcome back anytime.”

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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

ROAD CLOSURES: What to know about bridges, roads as Hurricane Ian approaches.

HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.

WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.

SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.