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Vol 5 No. 43 - July 13, 2005

Storm blows past Island, chews up beaches

The beach near the Seaside Inn and Resort in Bradenton Beach was torn away by the hurricane, exposing part of an old structure, including stairs, part of a foundation and an old seawall, along with giant riprap boulders.

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

Hurricane Dennis swept past the Island about 200 miles out, too far to cause an major damage but close enough to re-flame that "hurricane paranoia" that everyone felt last year.

Huge tides Saturday and Sunday brought water near the tops of some seawalls and in some cases, over them damaging landscaping.

In Bradenton Beach, Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter had crews on duty all weekend dealing with high water that caused some drama near the Bridge Street Pier.

"It was almost a comedy of errors," she said about a sailboat docked near the pier that broke loose and headed toward the pier parking lot. "We had people trying to get it re-moored, but that didn't work and it only made the situation worse. At one time, the mast was threatening the clock tower as the boat rocked back and forth."

The boat finally beached itself in the rocks at the pier parking lot. Poindexter said she is tired of dealing with the boats anchored off the pier and will be happy when the city gets a mooring field there to control or get rid of the derelict boats. She said the dinghy dock itself is almost gone from being battered by boats and submerged by the high tide. A private pier at Eighth Street South was destroyed, but Poindexter said the city’s pier is in good shape, although the high tides brought the water up to its underside.

On the beach side, Poindexter said there was a lot of erosion.

"The sand is gone at Katie Pierola Park," she said. "With the help of Manatee County, we estimated the damage from erosion on the beaches at $125,000."

The crews moved public works equipment off the Island, had the files ready to move and shuttered the buildings before the storm, according to Poindexter. She said they estimated protective measures cost the city $17,000 to $18,000, which the city can get reimbursed from the federal government if the president declares the area part of a natural disaster. Overall, she said, we escaped the worst.

"There were no reports of private property damage reported to my department," she said. "We spent about $5,000 on debris removal, but most of that was sand, landscaping and vegetation from the Gulf."

There was no problem in Holmes Beach, according to Skip Nunn, of the Public Works Department.

"We didn't lose any trees that we know of," he said. "The worst problem was flooded roads during the high tides."

Nunn said they had sand stockpiled near city hall for those who wanted to make sandbags, but few people availed themselves of it.

The erosion was a problem all along the beaches and the storm did not turn back the red tide, according to Kim Prichard, an Island resident who is a lifeguard at Coquina Beach. Prichard said it went away for a while during the high waves and winds Saturday, but it returned Sunday and the fumes remain strong this week.

"We lost maybe one and a half to two feet of sand along the beach," he said, "but there was minor damage to tree limbs along the beach."

In Longboat Key, the beach renourishment project suffered some setbacks during Hurricane Dennis, but the project’s technical advisor, Cliff Truitt, says things could have been much worse.

"Everybody seems impressed that the losses were pretty minimal," he said.

"We lost some of the white sand," said James Linkogle, public works project manager for the Town of Longboat Key, adding that surveyors will have to determine how much. "In one section, north of the Diplomat Hotel, we lost quite a bit."

But the coarse sand that was placed underneath the white sand held up well.

"It has been reshaped, but it’s still on shore," he said.

More sand was lost at the north of the key, he said. The town is still waiting for news on whether the north end will be added to the beach renourishment permit.

Depending on whether the key is declared a disaster area, the town may be able to get funds to replace the missing sand, he said.

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