ANNA MARIA ISLAND – While the Island missed a direct hit from Hurricane Ian, the effects of the Sept. 28 storm included beach erosion, primarily on the north end of the Island.
The good news for Manatee County, however, is that the sands are expected to return over the next several months without county intervention.
“For Anna Maria Island, the majority of beach sands were blown or drawn into a shallow sand bar directly offshore of the beaches along North Shore Drive and are expected to return over the next six to nine months with seasonal onshore winds and wave currents,” according to Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County National Resources Department director, in an email to The Sun.
Hunsicker said the majority of Gulf-facing beaches along the Island saw little or no effects of erosion at all.
“Manatee County participates in the state’s critically eroded beach program requiring an annual survey of beach conditions to track how the beach is approaching the time when renourishment is needed to continue to provide storm protection,” Hunsicker said. “We have already commissioned this year’s annual survey and will await its findings to determine how far along in years we are to the next erosion event, keeping in mind that a strong hurricane at any time has the potential to quickly remove vast stretches of beach, sacrificing it and the protection it provides to save residential and commercial structures and evacuation roadways upland from the beach.”
In 1992-93, the first beach nourishment of Anna Maria Island was commenced to protect upland infrastructure. Since then, approximately 6.9 million cubic yards of sand from offshore borrow areas have been placed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors.
Only private property owners who have given permission through a state-approved process that sets a seaward Erosion Control Line (ECL) are eligible for publicly-funded renourishment efforts, Hunsicker said.
“In Manatee County, property owners from approximately 79th Street North in Holmes Beach all the way south to Longboat Pass have given this permission, along with a one-half mile length of beach bordered roughly between Magnolia and Elm streets in the city of Anna Maria. Residents outside these limits in the city of Anna Maria have not given their consent to the establishment of an Erosion Control Line, especially along North Shore Drive, and are not eligible for county, state or federal renourishment programs,” he said.