ANNA MARIA ISLAND – An early Wednesday morning tour of Anna Maria Island revealed Hurricane Elsa’s impact was minimal in the three Island cities.
The storm that passed through Anna Maria Island Tuesday afternoon and evening and into Wednesday morning produced localized flooding but no reports of significant property damage, one reported fallen tree and no reported downed power lines or power outages on the Island.
According to Wunderground.com – an affiliate of The Weather Channel – the highest wind gust recorded at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport weather station during Elsa was 54 mph at 10:53 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Wednesday morning, Anna Maria resident Doug Copeland said he and his wife’s rain gauge indicated 2.8 inches of rain fell during Elsa at their home near the Rod & Reel Pier.
According to Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Tom Woodard and Lt. John Cosby from the Bradenton Beach Police Department, at approximately 11 a.m. Tuesday morning an unoccupied sailboat on the Cortez side of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) broke free of its mooring and began drifting toward the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach.
“We were able to go out and get it and get it tied up and secured. They got it under control and out of the way before it caused any problems,” Cosby said, noting that Officer Eric Hill piloted the police boat stationed on the police boat lift adjacent to the pier.
Cosby and Woodard said the pier and the floating dock sustained no damage during the storm. Cosby said it may take a few days to have the sailboat removed.
A 7 a.m. visit to the pier Wednesday morning revealed the sailboat was still secured to the dolphin pilings at east end of the floating day dock and none of the 15 or so liveaboard vessels anchored south of the pier had broken free or sunk during the storm. The one sunken vessel currently in the area sank long before Tuesday’s storm.
“Everybody did what they needed to do,” Cosby said of those liveaboard boaters.
According to Cosby, Officer Hill contacted many of them via cell phone on Monday and reminded them to secure their vessels with double anchors before the storm arrived.
“It appears everybody did it, because I don’t see any issues,” Cosby said.
Cosby and Woodard said they weren’t aware of any property damage or serious flooding issues elsewhere in the city. A tour of the city indicated some localized street and yard flooding, but less than can often be seen during other heavy rain events.
“I don’t believe we had any calls for service or any type of distress calls,” Cosby said.
Cosby said some of the Gulf-side beach areas “took a pretty good hit” in terms of beach erosion.
“That was expected. No big surprise there,” Cosby said of the erosion.
A pass through Holmes Beach at 7:30 Wednesday morning revealed standing water covering the edge of Marina Drive, near city hall and the Island Branch Library, but the travel lanes were not completely submerged. Standing water was also covering portions of some of the adjacent side streets.
When contacted later in the day, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said that city fared well during the storm.
“I was out all day and night until 5:30 this morning. We had some flooding by city hall around 3 to 4 a.m. After the rain stopped, the water subsided pretty quickly. We had minor overnight flooding and one tree down in the parking lot of Martinique North. We dodged the bullet,” Tokajer said.
At approximately 8 a.m., Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy and Public Works Manager Dean Jones were touring the city and accessing the storm damage.
“So far, we’re looking pretty good. We’ve got some local street flooding in the areas that would normally flood – and it’s not saltwater flooding, it’s rainwater flooding. There’s no trees down. All of our major roads are clear, but there’s some outlying areas and backstreets where we’ve got some issues with flooding. Some of that we’ll be able to pump out and some we won’t,” Murphy said.
A tour around Anna Maria indicated North Bay Boulevard, near the Bean Point beach access, was among the most flooded areas.
The visit to the beach in front of the Sandbar restaurant revealed significant beach erosion may have occurred.
The new Anna Maria City Pier came through the storm unscathed and residents and visitors were going about their business as usual as the sun appeared and the new day got underway, with some intermittent sun showers throughout the day.
The city’s “Reimagining Pine Avenue” public information meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon was cancelled and rescheduled at 2 p.m. on Monday, July 12.
A mid-morning trip to Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach revealed several people walking along the beach and few surfers in the water. Red flags were flying on the lifeguard tower and a member of the Manatee County Beach Patrol called a group of young men back to shore who had walked out to the end of one of the groins being battered by the high surf.