Island escapes Irma-geddon

Anna Maria Pier post-Irma
Hurricane Irma's powerful winds skinned the roof of the bait shop at the end of the historic Anna Maria Pier. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Hurricane Irma passed over the Island Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning and left in its wake varied degrees of damage, including ripped up roofs and structures, toppled trees and downed electrical lines that led to widespread power outages.

Hurricane Irma redirected a street sign at the corner of Magnolia and Crescent Drive in Anna Maria. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Anna Maria

A tour of the Island Monday morning revealed sporadic damage. The roof of the bait shop at the end of the Historic Anna Maria City Pier was mostly gone. Irma also peeled back exterior panels on the cell tower next to City Hall. Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said some beachfront homes suffered wind damage and efforts were being made to contact nonresident homeowners.

The mayor said the biggest concern was the citywide power outages. Tuesday afternoon, Murphy participated in a conference call with Florida Power & Light (FP&L) representative Rae Dowling, who said power would be restored to customers on Florida’s west coast no later than Friday, Sept. 22, but hopefully sooner. Murphy advises residents to plan accordingly.

Later that evening, FP&L spokesman Dave McDermitt said the Sept. 22 date was a worst-case scenario, but every effort was being made to restore power sooner.

“We have crews out there as we speak working to restore service to one of the main power lines that’s serving the Island, and we’re hoping that’s going to be energized tonight. I don’t think that’s going to restore service to all customers, but it’s a good start,” McDermitt said.

McDermitt said the power restoration begins with lines that service hospitals, police, fire and rescue and 911 centers, while also working on major thoroughfares populated by grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and other critical services before servicing the lines that feed residential neighborhoods.    

Holmes Beach

In Holmes Beach, a building in the Cayman Cay condominium complex sustained extensive roof damage. Large chunks of roofing material landed near Gulf Drive and a debris field lined one side of the building.

Manatee Public Beach remained closed Tuesday afternoon, and the two traffic lights on Manatee Avenue remained dark; as did the signal at the corner of Gulf Drive and Marina Drive, where temporary stop signs reminded drivers that non-operational traffic signals are to be treated as four-way stops.  

Holmes Beach residents Joe and Jaynie Christenson and their son, Evan, spent Tuesday afternoon removing a fallen tree from their driveway and cleaning debris from their yard. Jaynie said Joe spent Monday night in the powerless house due to concerns that their home was more susceptible to looters and burglars because the alarm system was not operational. Jaynie Christenson questioned the need to allow non-residents back on the Island during an extended power outage.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer said his department was still running on generators as of Tuesday evening.

Bradenton Beach

At least one trailer in the Pines Trailer Park in Bradenton Beach lost its roof, which landed on the hood of a parked car.

Pines Trailer Park post Irma
Ranae Ratajczak told The Sun on Facebook that this is her roof at the Pines Trailer Park in Bradenton Beach damaged by Irma. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

On 12th Street North, part of a metal structure blew off a home and landed against the van in the driveway. Some soffits at Bradenton Beach City Hall were ripped loose and a large limb from the banyan tree at the Annie Silver Community Center snapped and partially blocked Avenue C. The canopy at the Shell gas station was also damaged.

The Historic Bridge Street Pier sustained no visible damage and none of the boats in the nearby anchorage broke free and crashed into the pier.

Most businesses along the north side of Bridge Street had power, but some businesses along the south side of the street did not. Most residents on the south end of the city had power, but some households on the north end did not.

Cortez

The Cortez Bait & Seafood Fish Market on Cortez Road sustained significant damage to its exterior façade. Two houses in the village had trees fall on them; a mobile home in Cortez Park suffered significant roof damage; and a large sailboat in the Cortez Cove Boatyard tipped on its side.

A six-foot wide section of the north side of the Seafood Shack restaurant folded back from the roofline and exposed the second floor to the storm’s elements. The restaurant also lost two signs, including the three-dimensional grouper sign. CEO Jed Lippincott said the restaurant was still without power Tuesday evening.

Swordfish Grill General Manager Bob Slicker said some areas of his restaurant had power and some didn’t. The same applied to the homes in the historic fishing village.

“I have power, but my neighbor across the street doesn’t,” Slicker said.