Hurricane Ike chews up Island beaches and leaves streets and yards flooded from its powerful storm surge
SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
This yard on North Shore Drive in Anna Maria was inundated by the storm surge.
On its way to landfall in Galveston, Hurricane Ike left an impression on Anna Maria Island in the form of flooded streets, dead landscaping and damaged seawalls last week.
The main culprit was Ike’s tremendous size and power, which increased the tidal surge above the Island’s elevation on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
The flooding was serious along Marina Drive north from the intersection with Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach and out toward the boat docks where Marina sprouts off to the east. Streets in northern Anna Maria were flooded as were streets in northern Bradenton Beach and south along Bay Drive.
Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay said crews blocked off North Shore Drive north of North Bay Boulevard where high water came over the seawall and onto the street. Another seawall collapsed near where one fell during rough weather a week earlier caused by Hurricane Gustav. Other flooded areas included the intersection in front of Bay View Plaza and several streets along South Bay Boulevard where canals overflowed dumping saltwater into the road.
The Rod and Reel Pier lost two docks and its fish cleaning station, which was in the parking lot on Wednesday. Some boards on the main deck and the sewer pipe also came loose. The surrounding neighborhood, which floods easily, was inundated by the high tide. Several homes on North Bay Boulevard, North Shore Drive and Alamanda Road were flooded, and water remained in some parts of the streets until Friday morning.
On Thursday, high tide caused flooding again in northern Bradenton Beach, along Marina Drive and, of course, parts of Anna Maria. Fran Barford called Waste Management to have offiicials ask their trash truck drivers to go slow in the flooded streets because their wakes were pushing more water into homes along the roads.
Barford said city hall was inundated with calls from residents complaining that the new drainage system wasn’t working.
"The flooding we saw from Ike was from tidal surge," Barford said. "While we sympathize and certainly understand everyone’s concern about their property, the drainage system wasn’t designed to handle tidal flooding. This is a barrier island, and there’s just no way to combat an event like this."
Barford said city staff was doing all it could.
"George McKay and Gary (Thorpe) were out there 24/7 doing what they could – helping with sandbags and digging out where needed," Barford said. "People thought the storm drains were clogged, but they were clear. This was a storm event. It’s hard to get people to understand that."
Holmes Beach Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes said that the high tide was too much for the city’s stormwater management system.
"It backed up the storm drains and swales," he said. "When the drainage system works, it’s great, but when the tide is higher than the natural elevation, it backs up into yards and the street."
A couple of days after all that saltwater flooding, the formerly green grass at the side of the roads and in the swales was turning brown.
Meanwhile, the beaches suffered erosion in many areas up and down the Island. Erosion was bad along Coquina Beach, which is scheduled for renourishment next year. Manatee County Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker said the erosion on those beaches is to be expected.
"Those beaches have never been renourished," he said. "That is why we are planning to renourish them in the spring or fall of next year, depending on whether we can get the permitting and a contractor before turtle season."
The upcoming renourishment covers Coquina Beach to the south and Anna Maria beaches that had originally been nourished in 2002 and were scheduled to be renourished in 2005, but were not because the contractor was unable to complete the project.
Hunsicker said that renourished beaches are built to better withstand erosion from storms, and he thinks that the upcoming renourishment will better protect the uplands on the Island.