MAGGIE FIELD | SUN
Paddle boarder Ben Webb catches one of the
waves produced by Tropical Storm Isaac Monday
morning as it skirted Anna Maria Island and headed
out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical Storm Isaac passed by Anna Maria Island on Sunday and Monday with only a few squalls, leaving surfers stoked and just about everyone else all prepared with no hurricane in sight.
The storm, at one time forecast to pass within 100 miles of the Island, veered west out into the Gulf before it reached the Island’s latitude, and served as a good dry run for people to work out the kinks in their hurricane plans.
“If you prepare for the disaster and it never happens, it’s wonderful,” said Ed Ice, of the Anna Maria Island Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which was prepared to be activated, but never got the go-ahead from Manatee County.
Ice conducted a ham radio training meeting on Friday with operators, who had their radios and generators available in case communications and power went down, which never materialized.
As Isaac approached Anna Maria Island on Sunday, Publix was jammed as people rushed in at the last minute to buy water, batteries and other supplies.
A few raced to their city halls to get vehicle hang tags in case the Island was evacuated, and city officials sent e-mails letting people know that sand was available for sandbags.
Tanya Crawshaw and her son, Jack, of Boston, filled sandbags at Bayfront Park.
“We just bought a house here in Anna Maria last month,” the newcomer said. “This is my first time having to prepare for a tropical storm or hurricane and my husband isn’t here.”
Boat Capt. Michael Steach helped Rany Dula shovel sand.
“I’m going to stay here and help these ladies with their sandbagging. It’s the neighborly thing to do. These bags get pretty heavy,” he said.
“Captain, you are going to straight to heaven,” Dula said.
Neighbors checked on their out-of-town neighbors’ yards, hauling in loose items.
People left Harvey Memorial Community Church on Sunday morning with the message, “Trust in God, it’s in his hands.”
Next door, at Bradenton Beach Marina, workers stowed boats inside.
The county’s beach raker picked up seaweed on Sunday – that much less mess to deal with after the storm.
Only a few people hit the beach on Sunday; Coquina Beach parking lots were gated and lifeguards gone, although Manatee County Beach remained open throughout the afternoon.
Chris Ulmer, manager of the newly-renovated concession stand at Coquina Beach, brought chairs and tables inside, hoping for the best. Ulmer lives on 62nd Street in Holmes Beach, a flood-prone area, but did not evacuate. Flooding was light in most areas.
Voluntary evacuations were advised by Manatee County emergency operations managers on Sunday for people in Zone A, which includes the Island, and the county launched a full activation of the Emergency Operations Center Sunday morning in preparation for Isaac, but went to a skeleton crew on Monday afternoon.
Both Manatee County public shelters that opened for the storm also closed on Monday. Manatee bridges, which never closed to vehicular traffic, had opened to marine traffic by Monday afternoon.
As of press time, city governments and schools were expected to reopen Tuesday, and officials were predicting that the storm could strengthen in the warm waters of the Gulf and become a hurricane before making landfall in Louisiana.
Locally, Isaac was expected to bring winds of up to 25 knots on Tuesday with seas of six to 10 feet and rip currents.