Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island

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.

Bradenton Beach

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
Officer Eric Hill and members of the Bradenton Beach Public Works Department secured this sailboat that broke loose on the Cortez side of the ICW. Photo: Bradenton Beach Police Department | Submitted

“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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The sailboat that broke loose Tuesday morning remained tied to the Bridge Street Pier Wednesday morning. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The liveaboard boaters south of the Bridge Street Pier weathered Elsa’s waves and winds. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The sailboat that broke loose Tuesday morning remained tied to the Bridge Street Pier Wednesday morning. Photo: Joe Hendricks

Holmes Beach

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The flooding along Marina Drive in Holmes Beach was limited to the edge of the road by the time the sun came up. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
Standing water covered this portion of 63rd Street in Holmes Beach Wednesday morning. Photo: Joe Hendricks

Anna Maria

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
This Anna Maria homeowner’s yard experienced Elsa-related flooding. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The beach in front of the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria appeared to have suffered beach erosion during the storm. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The new Anna Maria City Pier sustained no storm damage. Photo: Joe Hendricks

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.

Cortez Beach

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.

Elsa takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
Due to high surf, these young men were asked to vacate a beach groin at Cortez Beach. Photo: Joe Hendricks

Anna Maria declares local state of emergency for Hurricane Elsa

ANNA MARIA – Due to the approach of Hurricane Elsa, the Anna Maria City Commission declared a preemptive local state of emergency Friday afternoon.

As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the National Hurricane Center predicted hurricane force winds could arrive in the Tampa Bay area as early as Monday.

The local declaration of emergency was enacted via emergency resolution R 21-771, a resolution that provides Mayor Dan Murphy with additional storm-related powers for the next seven days.

In effect now, the resolution allows the mayor to enact curfews, suspend alcohol sales, close roads, close certain areas of the city and spend up to $10,000 without additional city commission authorization while responding to the storm and any storm-related public safety and/or cleanup efforts.

During Friday afternoon’s emergency commission meeting, Murphy told the attending commission members that he would first consult with each commissioner by phone before making any final decisions regarding the city’s storm preparations and response efforts.

During the meeting, Murphy noted the city experienced power outages and downed power lines during Hurricane Irma in 2017, which resulted in the entrance to the city being temporarily manned and controlled by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Murphy said those efforts were complicated when the cities of Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach allowed residents and visitors back on the Island before the city of Anna Maria was prepared to do so.

Murphy said he will be meeting with the Public Works and Code Enforcement departments on Sunday to further evaluate the approaching storm.

Murphy and Public Works Manager Dean Jones said Public Works personnel will be on duty Monday despite Monday being a federal holiday and a day off for city employees. Jones said the city is aptly prepared for a storm of this scale and has the chain saws, tools, fuel and other equipment needed to clear the roads of fallen trees and storm debris if need be.

Sgt. Brett Getman said the Anna Maria Unit of the Sheriff’s Office will also be monitoring the approaching storm. “We’ll be prepared,” Getman said.

Murphy said the city already has a debris removal company, Jet Hauling, under contract and ready to roll if needed. The city has a new generator on order for city hall but it has not yet arrived.

Murphy said any evacuation orders would be issued by the county. Murphy said he’s in contact with county officials but the city is leading its own storm preparation and response efforts.

“This is our city. We need to make it safe. We need to make decisions for our city. That is the purpose of this resolution,” Murphy said.

Free sandbags are available at the northwest end of Bayfront Park, near the North Bay Boulevard/North Shore Drive intersection. Those seeking sandbags need to bring their own shovels and it’s a good idea to bring another person to hold the sandbags while they are being filled.

Free sandbags are available at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria. Photo: Joe Hendricks

Murphy said Friday’s emergency declaration has no impact on the AMI Privateer’s parade taking place Saturday morning. The parade will begin in Bradenton Beach, pass through Holmes Beach and end at City Pier Park in Anna Maria.

For updates and additional information visit, www.cityofannamaria.com.