ANNA MARIA – In response to the anticipated approach of Hurricane Ian, the Anna Maria City Commission has declared a temporary state of local emergency.
The commission took this action during an emergency commission meeting held Saturday afternoon, during which the commission adopted city resolution R22-783.
According to the resolution prepared by City Attorney Becky Vose, “The mayor is authorized to take all actions necessary and appropriate to protect human life and property subject to the limitations of Section 252.33, Florida Statutes.”
The resolution further authorizes the mayor to use all lawful authority granted to the city and the federal, state, county and city emergency management laws, rules, regulations and orders.
The state of local emergency will remain in effect until Saturday, Oct. 1, unless it’s revoked early. The commission can also extend the state of local emergency in additional seven-day increments if necessary. If the absence of the mayor, the emergency powers would transfer to Commission Chair Carol Carter.
The declaration allows the mayor to establish curfews, limit business hours, prohibit or restrict pedestrian and vehicular movement, declare certain areas off limits, prohibit alcohol sales, prohibit unauthorized or improper gasoline sales and prohibit the use of county-supplied fresh water for any purpose other than cooking, drinking, bathing and sanitary uses.
“It’s unfortunate, but situations like this can bring out the worst in people. People do things that they wouldn’t normally do. I understand that. You have to be a little bit tolerant of it, but we can’t let it take the whole shebang down,” Murphy told the commission.
The emergency authorization allows the mayor to use all available sources of the city government to cope with the emergency or disaster, including emergency expenditures not to exceed $10,000. The mayor may confiscate merchandise, equipment, vehicles or property needed to alleviate the emergency, with reimbursement to be made within 60 days.
The mayor is authorized to address price gouging practiced by anyone charging more than the normal average retail price for any merchandise, goods or services sold during the emergency.
Murphy said the resolution adopted that day was identical to the local state of emergency declaration enacted in 2017 prior to the approach of Hurricane Irma.
“It does give the mayor broad sweeping power. It is something that could be abused. We all have to live together and I believe that communication is key to making this work,” Murphy said.
The mayor said he would seek the insight of the individual commissioners before taking any emergency action he feels requires their input.
“I wish you all well and hopefully this will not have to be used, but we have it in our arsenal if we need to use it. I will keep you posted on a regular basis,” Murphy said.
Murphy mentioned the city-issued reentry tags that allow Anna Maria residents to return to their homes or businesses if entry restrictions are enacted. Murphy said those who already possess reentry tags do not need to obtain new ones. One reentry tag is issued per household, with two tags issued for households with special needs. Four reentry tags are issued for the Anna Maria businesses. Reentry tags are not issued to vacation rental guests. Reentry tags can be obtained at Anna Maria City Hall.
Carter noted the city experienced some reentry issues after Hurricane Irma – issues attributed in part to those entering Anna Maria Island via Bradenton Beach.
“We had people coming out here sightseeing,” Murphy said.
Murphy noted Bradenton Beach experienced minimal impacts during Hurricane Irma, whereas the impacts in Anna Maria included fallen trees and limbs, downed power lines, extended power outages and significant damage to the City Pier and pier buildings.
Murphy said he planned to address reentry issues during a meeting being hosted by the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center.
“It has to be better controlled. The individual cities on the Island have got to be communicating with each other,” Murphy said. “The county is in charge. Ultimately, they make the decision for reentry.”
Murphy mentioned the city’s free sandbagging area at the northwest end of Bayfront Park. The sand and empty bags are provided for free, but users are asked to bring their own shovels.
“We’ve been fleeced out of a lot of sandbags by people coming in and taking 60 to 70 sandbags at a time. There will be a limit of 15 sandbags per vehicle,” Murphy said.
Deputy Patrick Manning noted the county, for the first time, had already delivered to Bayfront Park a dozen pallets of free sandbags.
“They were gone by 9 o’clock. They were pre-filled by the jail inmates,” Manning said.