Island cities prepare for Hurricane Michael

Updated Oct. 9 – ANNA MARIA ISLAND – As Hurricane Michael approaches Florida’s west coast, local officials are making storm preparations.

Lt. John Cosby serves as Bradenton Beach’s emergency operations manager.

“We’re expecting tropical storm-type winds and gusts starting Tuesday evening, with heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday, so we’ll be watching for standing water and flooding. We’ve got code enforcement going to the beach businesses telling them to batten down and get their stuff off the beach because it will blow around. If we’re looking at a two-to-four-foot storm surge, that shouldn’t hurt us too much because we don’t have any real soft spots,” Cosby said.

“They seem pretty positive about the storm track and don’t anticipate it changing. The only change would be if the storm really intensifies or stalls above us. There’s going to be a lot of rain and wind, but it’s nothing we’re not used to. We’re the first county on the watch list and the worst is expected to happen north of us. Hopefully it just steams on by,” Cosby said this afternoon.

Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Tom Woodard said high water signs were placed in areas that typically flood and catch basins were cleaned so the water can get to where it needs to go.

“I heard some mention of possible ‘king tides’ too,” Woodard cautioned.

Bradenton Beach does not provide sandbags, but sandbags can be obtained at the east end of G.T. Bray Park, at 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W. in Bradenton. ID is required and county residents are allowed 10 bags per household.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said the generator that powers the police department and public works buildings was being tested and he and others would continue to monitor the storm.

“We are already prepared. We were in June and we just double checked today. All equipment is in working order, we have reserve fuel and water, we have 3,000 bags on standby and our filling area is topped off with sand. We rehearsed our evacuation and emergency notification plan. I am confident all is in order,” Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said early this evening.

Anna Maria Public Works Manager Dean Jones said, “We made preparations with our equipment, our personnel and our plan of attack. We’ve got our barricades ready and we’ll have more information on Tuesday. We’re monitoring the high and low tides, and sandbags are available at the north end of Bayfront Park on North Bay Boulevard.”

AMI Hurricane Sandbags
Sandbags are available at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria, shown here, and at city hall in Holmes Beach. – Dean Jones/Anna Maria Public Works | Submitted

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said, “We’re not doing anything more than our regular sandbag preparations. Sandbags can be found in front of the police station and city hall, on the south end of the property.”

Manatee County issued a press release this afternoon that said, “Hurricane Michael is projected to deliver up to four inches of rainfall and a storm surge of up to four feet,” according to acting Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer.

“Beachgoers should be aware of dangerous rip currents and high surf. Swimming and surfing are not advised. We’re advising people to avoid driving through water if there’s standing water on local roads. People can act over the next day to secure lanai furniture and any valuables they have outdoors. We expect Hurricane Michael to deliver strong winds in the area, so the time to prepare is right now,” Litschauer said.