King tide a royal pain

King tide floater
Holmes Beach resident Jason Blomme floats down a flooded 83rd Street on a giant swan during king tide flooding this past weekend. - Briane Mathae | Submitted

BRADENTON BEACH – Anna Maria Island experienced unexpected flooding Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to the natural phenomenon known as the king tide.

King tides typically happen twice a year due to the alignment of the sun and moon and generally produce the year’s greatest tidal ranges.

Some of the heaviest flooding in Bradenton Beach occurred on the north end of the city, between Gulf Drive and Sarasota Bay.

Speaking by cell phone early Friday afternoon, Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Tome Woodard said, “We’re blocking the road off due to the excessive flooding. It’s as high as I’ve ever seen it.”

Woodard said the tide started rising Friday around 10:30 a.m., peaked around 1 p.m. and then started to slowly recede.

King Tide Signs
24th Street North in Bradenton Beach was underwater Friday afternoon. – Marc Sillars | Submitted

“I’m on 26th Street right now. It’s not raining and it’s beautiful out here, but the road is flooded almost to Gulf Drive. It’s to the back of Sharky’s,” he said.

In an e-mail sent to Bradenton Beach Commissioners that afternoon, Woodard wrote, “Please be aware that this event could happen again over the next couple days, and remember it is saltwater you are driving through.”

Saltwater is even more damaging to vehicles than fresh water, especially the motors.

Woodard said WaStop check valves will soon be installed in drainage pipes that flow outward into the bay and that will help minimize future tidal flooding. The one-way valves already used in Anna Maria help prevent tidal waters from backflowing inland and creating standing water.

Residents impacted

Part-time Bradenton Beach residents Betsy and Marc Sillars own a home at the corner of 24th Street North and Avenue A.

“We knew there was a full moon, but there was nothing last night. It caught us by surprise. It’s up to our front door. It goes all the way to Avenue B and down Canasta. It’s crazy,” Betsy Sillars said Friday afternoon.

When asked if water was seeping into their ground-level home, she said, “Not yet, but we moved the furniture. It’s a helpless feeling. There’s nothing you can do. Tom put signs up and Lt. Cosby said the road should be closed for the time being so drivers can’t go through and make a wake. We appreciate that.”

On Saturday afternoon, Marc Sillars sent an e-mail that included a picture of a mail truck navigating their flooded street.

“It’s worse today than it was yesterday,” he wrote.

Saturday’s flooding resulted in some water getting into the Sillars’ home.

Vice Mayor John Chappie said the flooding on the south side of town extended 50 to 75 feet from the bay toward Gulf Drive, with significant flooding on Bay Drive South.

“I don’t think I’ve seen the tides that high in decades. It was extreme,” Chappie said, noting that he also encountered flooded roads in Holmes Beach.

Holmes Beach flooding

“The water at the public beach came up to where the swing sets are and it was pretty deep,” Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said.

“The intersections of Gulf and Marina, all along Marina Drive where it usually gets flooded, were very deep. And the canals along Marina Drive were all flooded over the roads. There were quite a few places where we had to put up slow/no wake signs in the streets,” he added.

Anna Maria flooding

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said there was flooding on Pine Avenue and other interior streets throughout the city on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“However, the good news was the performance of our new WaStop valves,” he said. “The areas where they were installed along the upper portions of North Shore and South Bay remained dry. The remainder of these valves are scheduled to go in over the next six to seven months. At that point, every outlet into Lake LaVista or the bays will have a valve installed.”