1. News

In Gulfport: Storm has passed, bar's open

O'Maddy's Bar & Grille was open for business bright and early Monday morning. (Photo by Dan DeGregory)
Published Sep. 11, 2017

Times Staff Writer

GULFPORT -- Street signs blew down, tree limbs crushed fences and Spanish moss blanketed the town. But the roads were clear, just puddles even down by the beach.

So at 8 a.m. on Monday, bartender Sally Douglas rolled open the metal shutters at O'Maddy's Bar & Grille, as she has every morning for 35 years.

"Folks were already here waiting," she said, pouring a shot of Absolut into cranberry juice. "Of course we're open."

No power? No water? No problem.

Douglas covered the melting ice in the beer cooler with cardboard and told customers they had to pay cash. "The drafts are warm," she said. But bottles and cans were still cold. For now.

By 10:30 a.m., 32 people sat at the beachfront bar, drinking and watching the whitecaps roll in on Boca Ciega Bay.

"We cheated death again!" said Billy Trudell, 52, raising a bottle of Yuengling to his pals. "I blame it on the Indians."

Trudell, a Gulfport native, said he has heard the story all his life. "Some ancient burial mounds in Tampa Bay. Sacred grounds," he said. "Every time a storm is supposed to come here, it turns. We always seem to get spared."

At 11 a.m., Charlie Williams, 64, walked into the bar and hugged Trudell.

"We did it again!" he cried. "We're all still here.!"

Williams, a commercial mullet fisherman, had been drinking whiskey for two days and hadn't slept. He swore he was never worried about Hurricane Irma. "I ain't afraid of nothing."

Gulfport's long public pier, which juts into the bay just across from O'Maddy's, was named for Williams' grandfather. "He and my daddy and uncle rode out the last hurricane that came ashore here in 1921," Williams said. "Every boat in that bayou ended up north of Tangerine Avenue." More than a mile from the beach.

That storm destroyed Williams' grandfather's house and farm. "Nothing left but sand and shells. The whole barn was gone, just disappeared. All the chickens drowned or were dying in the coops," he said. "People were starving. So granddad barbecued up all those chickens. My daddy, who was 6, never ate another chicken in his life."

His dad, uncle and grandparents had to live in an Army tent for the next year.

"But that's not gonna happen here again," he said, and ordered another whiskey, straight up.

Contact Lane DeGregory at Follow her on Twitter @LaneDeGregory


  1. Joshua Michael Nichols, 21, was arrested by Pasco County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday in connection to the early morning shooting death of an unidentified man during an argument outside a Spring Hill home. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    One person is in custody. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
  2. Yesterday• Pasco
    Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, received his third “Paul Harris Award.” the highest recognition from the Rotary Club, on Aug. 15. The pin was presented to Dr. Musunuru, a nationally-recognized cardiologist, by Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins in recognition of his humanitarian and philanthropic services to the people of Pasco County and the State of Florida for nearly 40 years. Pictured: Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, (left) and Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins. Jemith Rosa/Hudson Rotary Club
    News and notes about your neighbors
  3. A Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy walks around the Old Skool Sports Bar and Grill, the scene of a shooting early in the morning, north of Lancaster, S.C. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.  Lancaster County Sherriff's Office said in a statement that the agency was investigating a fatal shooting that also injured several people.  (Jessica Holdman/The Post And Courier via AP) JESSICA HOLDMAN  |  AP
    Two adult males were shot and killed.
  4. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, right, listens to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, during the Youth Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.  (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ  |  AP
    Swedish 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg started the climate strike movement with her lone protest in front of her country’s parliament.
  5. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    She was not in a crosswalk when she was hit, troopers say.
  6. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  8. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  9. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  10. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.