Hurricane Ian is relatively easy on Anna Maria Island

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This mobile home at Pines Trailer Park suffered significant damage. -Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Although some damage has occurred, Anna Maria Island survived Hurricane Ian without experiencing the widespread devastation that many residents and business owners originally feared.

As of Thursday evening September 29, most of Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach remained without water and sewer services provided by Manatee County and electrical services provided by Florida Power & Light (FPL).

Prior to the hurricane’s landfall, Manatee County ordered a mandatory evacuation from the island beginning Tuesday evening. A walk around the island just before sunset on September 27 revealed several condemned buildings and houses and a largely deserted and evacuated island.

Residents, business owners and others were allowed to return to the island via Cortez Road and Manatee Avenue at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Bradenton Beach

At 10:05 a.m. on September 29, Bradenton Beach Police Chief John Cosby provided The Sun with his damage assessment.

“We started operations at 3 a.m. this morning and had the team fully operational by 5 a.m. We did well,” Cosby said. “The only real damage we had at our municipal facilities was that the police department roof was leaking. The worst damage is at the two trailer parks where some roofs and carports were blown off. We also suffered damage to a 600 block condo.”

Hurricane Ian calms down on Anna Maria Island
This house in Pines Trailer Park has been damaged. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

None of the boats living on board south of the Bridge Street pier broke loose and damaged the pier.

“The pier and floating dock worked well,” Cosby said. “We have two boats missing, a boat on the ground and a boat – we don’t know where it came from – leaning against the bridge. There is no damage to the bridge and the FDOT has been notified.

“The cell tower is damaged. It was hit by flying debris which left good sized dents in it. I don’t know if it’s working or not. Our cell service is terrible right now so it may have been down,” Cosby said.

Cosby said there was a lot of tree and landscaping debris, but major roads had already been cleared by the city’s public works department.

“We had no major power lines down, which should speed up the restoration of power. At present, we have no electricity, no water, no sewage; and we have no idea when those will come back,” he said.

Hurricane Ian calms down on Anna Maria Island
This Sandpiper Resort mobile home suffered the wrath of Hurricane Ian. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

Cosby noted that the county and the FPL faced far worse damage in eastern Manatee County.

“The east side of the county was destroyed. When the storm came through it was a Cat 2/Cat 3. They were rescuing people on rooftops this morning,” he said. “The county has a lot to do. We are working together and hopefully we can get the utilities up and running as quickly as possible, but I think it will take some time.

When asked if people should still return to the city, Cosby replied, “We allow them to return. If they want to stay, they can, but there is no electricity, water or sewage.

Holmes Beach

When contacted around 11:30 a.m., Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said, “We had minimal damage – a few trees and branches. Electricity is cut for around 90% of the inhabitants of the island. We don’t have any water yet. We don’t have Spectrum connectivity and are waiting for them to fix that.

“Full access to Holmes Beach via Manatee Avenue opened at 10am this morning. Once the island was deemed an evacuation zone, we limited the number of people returning to security personnel public, but we never raise the bridges and we never prevent people from leaving the island.

Hurricane Ian calms down on Anna Maria Island
Hurricane Hanks people left messages for Hurricane Ian. – Lake Leslie | Sun

Tokajer pondered what might have happened had Hurricane Ian not taken an unexpected southerly turn, hitting the Fort Myers area.

“We have been truly blessed. The damage and devastation we see to the south is what we expected as a direct hit in our region. It’s really intimidating to see the devastation that’s happened there – and to see what a real storm surge looks like in real life instead of just projections,” he said.

Anna-Maria

During a visit to his generator-powered office at City Hall early Thursday afternoon, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, “We did well. We didn’t take a direct hit. If we had, it would have been devastating for our city. We had a lot of trees and several downed wires, but we mostly cleared. The city is without electricity or water. I have no idea when the utilities were restored. I would like. People can come back but it’s not really comfortable without water or electricity.

The outer skin of Anna Maria’s cell tower was damaged, but Murphy said he was unaware of any major structural damage in the town other than a house whose front door had been torn off .

“The only significant problem I see is the handing over of port-a-potties to construction sites. Several contractors picked up theirs, but one contractor didn’t bother to tie them up or pick them up. It’s a health concern and hazard, and it’s something we put on our building checklist,” Murphy said.

Hurricane Ian calms down on Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria City’s new pier suffered no damage from the hurricane but remained closed Thursday. –Joe Hendricks | Sun

In 2017, damage from Hurricane Irma led to the closure and subsequent replacement of City Pier. When asked how the new pier fared in its first hurricane, Murphy said, “Our new pier held up well. There is no structural damage. It was built correctly. I was worried – like a father whose daughter is going on her first date.

Anna Maria residents JoAnn and Anthony Manali chose not to evacuate and weathered the storm to their home and business – Captain Anthony’s Stone Crab Store.

“I was scared and I will never do it again. It was worse than I could have imagined,” JoAnn Manali said of the experience.

Cortez

Sun reporter Jason Schaffer’s visit to Cortez revealed no significant damage. He said the Fisherman’s Hall building was slightly damaged and siding on a storage building on West 124th Street was damaged.

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