Gulf of Mexico

One year after Hurricane Michael: An unexpected tourism boom in Franklin County

ST. GEORGE ISLAND — The glancing blow to Franklin County’s main barrier island has made it the go-to place for vacationers unable to visit the beach towns that bore the brunt of Hurricane Michael.

For Pat Kelly and the island bar Harry A’s, that has meant an increase in business since reopening this summer and a wave of exploding tourism that is still cresting.

As the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office was asking for the names of people who stayed behind so they could be identified following the storm, Kelly was one of the last people off the island on October 10, 2018, as the Category 5 cyclone came ashore just 50 miles to the west.

He left the upstairs apartment open for anyone who needed shelter – they did – but when he returned to the bar, there were questions about whether they would be able to recoup.

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