Hurricane Ian takes it relatively easy on Anna Maria Island

Hurricane Ian takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
This mobile home in the Pines Trailer Park suffered significant damage. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Although some damage occurred, Anna Maria Island survived Hurricane Ian without suffering the widespread devastation many residents and business owners originally feared.

As of Thursday evening Sept. 29, most of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach remained without the water and sewage services provided by Manatee County and the electrical services provided by Florida Power & Light (FPL).

Before the hurricane arrived, Manatee County ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Island as of Tuesday evening. A drive around the Island just before sundown on Sept. 27 revealed several boarded-up buildings and homes and a mostly deserted and evacuated Island.

Residents, business owners and others were allowed to return to the Island via Cortez Road and Manatee Avenue at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Bradenton Beach

At 10:05 a.m. Sept. 29, Bradenton Beach Police Chief John Cosby provided The Sun with his damage assessment.

“We started operations at 3 o’clock this morning and we had the team fully operational by 5 a.m. We did good,” Cosby said. “The only real damage we had to our city facilities was the police department roof was leaking. The worst damage is in the two trailer parks where some roofs and carports were blown off. We also had some damage to a condo on the 600 block.”

Hurricane Ian takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
This home in the Pines Trailer Park was damaged. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

None of the live-aboard boats south of the Bridge Street Pier broke free and damaged the pier.

“The pier and floating dock did good,” Cosby said. “We’ve got two boats missing, one boat down and one boat – we don’t where it came from – leaning against the bridge. There’s no damage to the bridge and FDOT’s been notified.”

“The cell tower is damaged. It got hit by some flying debris that left some good-sized dents in it. I don’t know if it’s operational or not. Our cell service is terrible right now, so it may have been disrupted,” Cosby said.

Cosby said there was a lot of tree and landscaping debris, but the main roads had already been cleared by the city’s public works department.

“We had no major power lines down, so that should make it quicker to restore power. Right now we do not have any power, water or sewer; and we have no idea when those are coming back,” he said.

Hurricane Ian takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
This mobile home in the Sandpiper Resort felt the wrath of Hurricane Ian. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Cosby noted the county and FPL were dealing with significantly worse damage in eastern Manatee County.

“The east side of the county got destroyed. When the storm went over that way, it was a Cat 2/Cat 3. They were rescuing people off roofs this morning,” he said. “The county’s got a lot to take care of. We’re working together and hopefully, we can get the utilities up as fast as we can, but I think it’s going to be a while.”

When asked if folks should return to the city yet, Cosby said, “We’re allowing them to come back. If they want to stay, they can, but there’s no power, no water and no sewer.”

Holmes Beach

When contacted at approximately 11:30 a.m., Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said, “We had minimal damage – some trees and limbs. Power’s out to about 90% of the people on the Island. We have no water yet. We have no Spectrum connectivity and we’re waiting for them to fix that.

“Full access to Holmes Beach through Manatee Avenue was opened at 10 o’clock this morning. Once the Island was deemed an evacuation zone, we limited the number of people that returned to public safety personnel, but we never raise the bridges and we never stop people from leaving the Island.”

Hurricane Ian takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The folks at Hurricane Hanks left messages for Hurricane Ian. – Leslie Lake | Sun

Tokajer reflected on what could have been had Hurricane Ian not taken an unexpected turn to the south, making landfall in the Fort Myers area.

“We were truly blessed. The damage and devastation we’re seeing to the south is what we were expecting as a direct hit to our area. It’s truly daunting to see the devastation that happened down there – and to see what a true storm surge looks like in real life instead of just projections,” he said.

Anna Maria

When visited in his generator-powered office at city hall early Thursday afternoon, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, “We did good. We didn’t take a direct hit. If we had, it would have been devasting for our city. We had a lot of trees down and several wires down, but we have most of that cleared. The city’s without power and water. I have no idea when utilities are being restored. I wish I did. People can come back but it’s not real comfortable without water and power.”

The exterior skin of the Anna Maria cell tower was damaged but Murphy said he wasn’t aware of any significant structural damage within the city other than one home having its front door blown off.

“The only significant problem I see is turned over port-a-potties at construction sites. Several contractors picked theirs up, but one contractor didn’t bother to tie them down or pick them up. That’s a problem and a health hazard, and that’s something we put in our construction checklist,” Murphy said.

Hurricane Ian takes it easy on Anna Maria Island
The new Anna Maria City Pier suffered no hurricane damage but remained closed on Thursday. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

In 2017, the damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma led to the City Pier being closed and later replaced. When asked how the new pier fared during its first hurricane, Murphy said, “Our new pier held up fine. There’s no structural damage at all. It was built right. I was concerned – like a father whose daughter goes on her first date.”

Anna Maria residents JoAnn and Anthony Manali chose not to evacuate and rode the storm out at their home and business – Captain Anthony’s Stone Crab Store.

“I was scared and I’ll never do it again. It was worse than I could have ever imagined,” JoAnn Manali said of that experience.


Sun reporter Jason Schaffer’s tour of Cortez revealed no significant damage. He said there was slight damage to the Fisherman’s Hall building and some siding damage to a storage building on 124th Street West.