Lowcountry comes together to help restore James Island restaurant nearly destroyed by Irma
Island Breeze, a James Island restaurant that sits off the beaten path, was badly damaged by Tropical Storm Irma, but it will reopen by the weekend thanks to the kindness of the James Island and Folly communities.
The cool vibes of reggae music returned to Mosquito Beach establishment on Tuesday, flowing through the air and lifting owner Norma Lemon up in a time of need.
"Island breeze is a one love place, and that's what it's about," she said.
The storm last week blew through the Lowcountry and nearly washed away her dream.
"Everything I saw was Irma," she said. Debris. Furniture turned upside down. Refrigerator, freezer, deep fryer. It crippled the business.
It, however, didn't break her spirit.
"It's one day at a time," she said as she and her husband Norm navigate life post-storm. "The first day it was just, I said to myself, 'we lost everything, let me throw my hands up and give up.' Then great people came along and helped us."
That's where Aloysius Zealy comes in. He's just a customer who cares.
"It's just people coming together to help people," he said. "It's community. It's just what you do for your neighbor."
Zealy first met the Lemons a few months ago when he stopped in for a beer after work. He said they were devastated after the storm and didn't know where to start. He gathered his construction crew and called on the community to help the Lemons get back on their feet.
More than a dozen volunteers spent Tuesday hauling off ruined furniture and appliances, ripping out rotted walls, and cleaning everything in the restaurant from top to bottom.
Zealy and his crew even cooked for everyone, turning devastation into a celebration.
"It'll give them a fresh start, a clean slate," he said.
A small act of kindness and a little elbow grease that will never be forgotten.
"Words just can't describe it," Lemon said. "There are a lot of good people in this world. I don't know how to thank them. I just have to hug them, thank them and feed them."
Lemon said she will open Island Breeze by this weekend one way or the other, even if she only has two chairs.
She has a GoFundMe page set up. You can donate to the Save Island Breeze fund to help her buy new appliances.
The best way to help, though, is to stop by throughout the week and offer a helping hand or stop in for a meal, cold beer, or just to enjoy the view.