Emily delivers a slap to the Island

Tropical Storm Emily
Waves pound the Anna Maria Island shore and threaten to inundate two sea turtle nests. - Tom Vaught | Sun

Anna Maria Island residents awakened Monday to heavy rains and winds as Tropical Storm Emily took made landfall about 10:45 a.m.

The fast-moving Emily formed overnight in the Gulf of Mexico, then moved across the state, bringing with it torrential rains and winds gusting to 60 mph.

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 31 counties, including Manatee and Sarasota.

Emily was the Island’s first encounter with a named storm this year and the first direct hit years. As it made landfall on the Island, it took out power to more than 3,000 Florida Power and Light customers, washed out an unknown number of turtle nests, caused localized flooding and blew down tree limbs. The power outages were the result of a damaged main power line, according to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox got flurries of calls throughout the day. One was from a woman who found two turtles in her swimming pool. High waters swamped turtle nests near the water and washed away some markers.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said the day dock at the Bridge Street Pier was damaged by the heavy waves, and Building Official Steve Gilbert closed it to the public to assess the extent of the damage.

“Other than that, we had some flooding with no major damage,” Speciale said. “The wind damaged some trees and some palms got trimmed by the wind, but no major damage to property and no injuries.”

In Holmes Beach, there was flooding on those streets that flood easily, according to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer. He said they had no reports of major damage, just tree limbs down and scattered power outages.

In Anna Maria, the low areas also experienced flooding but there were no reports of significant damage.

“Both the city and Rod and Reel piers decided to close for the day,” said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Russell Schnering.

National Weather Service Forecaster Eric Oglesby, in Ruskin, said Emily formed quickly because the conditions were just right.

“Sunday we saw this tropical depression form as a frontal boundary entered the area, and the water was warm, allowing it to form into a tropical storm,” Oglesby said. “Normally, these conditions exist earlier in the season, in June, or later in the year, in October.”

Oglesby said Emily had winds of 50-60 mph as it made landfall. He noted that it’s rare to see a storm actually hit Anna Maria Island, and everyone was fortunate Emily moved quickly through the area before it gained more strength.