ANNA MARIA ISLAND — Barricades are up in flood-prone areas of Anna Maria Island as officials prepare for Tropical Storm Andrea, which is expected to dump 5-7 inches of rain in the area through Saturday.
Sandbags are being distributed.
We always have sand available for residents, at North Bay Boulevard and North Shore Drive, said Diane Percycoe, the citys finance director and emergency manager. Sandbags can also be picked up at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
City workers were also cleaning out storm drains Wednesday in anticipation of heavy rains, Percycoe said.
As of 4 a.m., Andrea's maximum sustained winds increased to near 60 mph and the storm is expected to reach Florida's Big Bend area later in the day before moving across southeastern Georgia.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for a large section of Florida's west coast from Boca Grande to Indian Pass and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Fla., all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.
The storm is centered about 220 miles west-southwest of Tampa and is moving north-northeast near 13 mph.
It is the first named storm of the 2013 season, which began June 1.
Manatee and the rest of the region were under a tropical storm warning, a tornado watch and a flood watch.
Coastal flood and high surf advisories have also been issued for the area.
The weather service predicts 5- to 7-foot waves with large breaking surf and rip currents at area beaches through Friday. High tides may run 1 to 3 feet above normal.
Suzi Fox, the director of the Anna Maria Island turtle watch and seabird program, said there were about 25 sea turtle nests on the beach, including six new nests discovered Wednesday morning. She said there wasn't much to do until they know more about the severity of the storm.
"We're crossing our fingers and flippers," she said.
Fox said she and volunteers would be making sure nest markers are as secure as possible. "We'll make sure the stakes are pounded in extra tight," and that each nest location was recorded. Once the eggs are laid, thay can't be moved.
"We can't relocate anything," Fox said. "Once eggs are down, they're federally protected."
She also cautioned beachgoers not to touch eggs they may see laying on the beach. "Let them go back into the Gulf," Fox said.
Fox also said her office was also monitoring about 250 black skimmer birds that are nesting on the north end of Anna Maria. Since it is the beginning of nesting season, any damage than may occur can be overcome.
"Hopefully, they can renest," she said.