Island residents calmly wait and watch as Tropical Storm Fay moves slowly into the Florida peninsula.
Tim Riedy, of Hurricane Liquors,
sets his sandwich board outside the front
door offering "vital hurricane supplies" consisting of beer, wine and a fine
selection of distilled products for those contemplating a hurricane party.
SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY
Roger Allen, of the Florida Maritime Museum, cut short his vacation
to return and install hurricane shutters for the first time since
the Cortez schoolhouse was renovated into a museum. SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE
An extended family from England, Scotland, Canada and the U.S. occupy
two tables. David Faulkner, second person in on the left, said they’re
all prepared with plenty of beer, ice and film for their cameras.
SUN PHOTO LAURIE KROSNEY
Egret’s Landing in Holmes beach gets the plywood treatment
in advance of Tropical Storm Fay. SUN PHOTO/JOHN REITZ
Island cities and Cortez prepared for the possible arrival of Tropical Storm Fay Monday by handing out sandbags, processing re-entry tag applications, removing future debris from streets and beaches and battening down the hatches.
The Manatee County Emergency Operations Center monitored the progress of the storm as it wound its way across Cuba and through the straits toward the Florida Keys. Shortly before noon, officials announced that the county government would close Tuesday so that employees could deal with the storm.
Island cities also took precautions. The Bradenton Beach City Commission passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency at 9 a.m. and Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford declared a state of emergency in her city at 2 p.m.
This is the first close encounter with a named storm in years and it produced a run on several essentials.
The staff at Jessie’s Island Store reports it had to call for another shipment of gasoline as residents and visitors went through 17,000 gallons in two days. The staffs at all three cities reported a run on re-entry tags and all three cities were busy providing sand bags. One hundred sand bags were delivered to Anna Maria Elementary School on Monday, Principal Tom Leavengood said.
While the new main building is elevated and safe from flooding, the art room, the music room and the auditorium are at ground level and need protection, he said.
As custodians put away loose items around the school, officials debated whether to let children out early, then decided not to.
"It’s safer to keep them here than let them out early and have them possibly go home to an empty house," he said. Later, the school superintendent announced that schools would be closed Tuesday.
Construction was suspended on the turn lane extension at Gulf Drive and Cortez Road, on the Anna Maria Island Bridge rehabilitation and on the water project in Anna Maria.
"We’re concentrating on securing everything from the bridge so it doesn’t become flying debris," said Audrey Clarke, public information officer for the bridge contractor.
The contractors on the Anna Maria water project were working to secure the metal plates covering the road over the project area.
"They've put asphalt around those plates to secure them, and they've laid temporary asphalt across Gulf Drive where the cuts are for the drainage," Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford said. "We're working to be very pro-active about this."
All three cities have building department and code enforcement staff out warning contractors to secure their job sites and resorts to take tents and chairs off the beach.
For residents and visitors on the order of the day.
Gavin Middleton, who hails from Scotland, was having lunch at Minnie’s while he waited for the latest word on the storm.
"We’re ready," Middleton said. "We have beer, ice and plenty of film for our cameras."
Middleton and his 14 family members thought the approaching storm would be a "fantastic experience."
Holmes Beach Realtor Steve Bark said he thought the storm would be going inland around Naples, but he has his preparations in hand, just in case.
"I have extra wine," he joked, adding that if an evacuation order came, he’d get off the Island.
Down the plaza at Hurricane Liquors, Tim Riedy was preparing a sign offering vital hurricane supplies, which he said included "beer, wine and booze."
Father Rob Mongiello, of St. Bernard’s, was lunching next door at Hurricane Hank’s.
"We’ve got the hurricane shutters going up on the church," he said. "When I first came here to St. Bernard’s, my old church, Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda got hit hard by Charley. I’m praying that doesn’t happen here."
The Bartlett’s, including 17-year old triplets Lauren, Jay and Alex, weren’t paying much attention to the storm. Their father, Barry said the family was here four years ago during Hurricane Charley and had to evacuate.
"There weren’t any hotel rooms when we got off the Island, so we had to go all the way to Orlando," he recalled. "What’s this one doing? I thought it was going to be south of here."
Overall, the Island seemed to be in a state of watchful waiting. Holmes Beach resident Jim Guerino was putting up his hurricane shutters.
"I don’t think we’re going to get a direct hit," he said. "But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared."
Two commercial fishing boats out of Cortez will ride out the storm at Fort Jefferson, south of Key West, said Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co. The last boat returned to port in Cortez on Monday.
At Cortez Bait and Seafood, fish were loaded into the freezer and fishermen pulled their boats out of the water and stored them in the parking lot at the boat works, Kim McVey said.
Just down the street at the Florida Maritime Museum, metal shutters went up on the newly-renovated Cortez schoolhouse, which has served as a hurricane shelter in the past. The historic store under renovation next to the museum has newly-installed hurricane windows.
"We’re confident in the buildings," museum coordinator Roger Allen said. "They were built to the highest building codes knowing we’re going to have hurricanes."
Boats were moved to the FISH Preserve, antique, irreplaceable hand tools used for boatbuilding were moved to higher ground and the maritime library was wrapped in plastic.