Hurricane Irma aftermath in Anna Maria Island Coquina Park
Rain increased from a light sprinkle to a steady fall Monday morning as city commissioner Dale Woodland was out at the Anna Maria City Pier, camera in hand, surveying Irma’s effects on the island.
From the pier’s partially submerged parking lot, peering out across the water, the bare bones of the pier building’s roof could be seen. The gate leading to the walkway was closed, but Woodland could spot the damage to the roof and the walkway from behind the gate.
“On the north side, you can see it, all the panels are gone. Obviously that’s not going to be open for a while,” Woodland said.
Across the island, trees and other debris littered nearly every road, though most streets were driveable. The biggest hazards Monday morning were low-hanging and downed power lines, as it was unclear if they were live. At least one power pole was snapped, but had not fallen near the pier.
Woodland said he lost power around 5 p.m. Sunday.
He woke up Monday after riding out Hurricane Irma in his Lake LaVista home, complete with hurricane windows, metal panels and a new roof. When he peered out of his bedroom window, there was no debris in his yard or dock from flooding.
“That’s huge, for all the people. I keep getting phone calls and they’re all people that want to know if their house is flooded because they’ve got ground level homes. And I can pretty easily tell them all it’s not an issue,” Woodland said.
Monday morning, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies and island police departments were still restricting traffic onto the island to civilians as crews continued to survey the damage. Though the county-wide curfew was lifted Monday morning, access to the island was still stopped short at the Cortez Bridge.
Anna Maria Island will contend with drinking water issues due to saltwater intrusion, Sheriff Rick Wells said in a Monday morning briefing.
On the west side of the island, the wind whipped up sand, pushing piles of sand back several feet. Larger than normal waves crested in the gray-ish green water that was darker than its typical bright blue and green hues.
Walkways normally relatively clear of sand saw several inches piled up, pushed back by the strong Category 2 hurricane winds. Much of the immediately visible damage to the island was debris from trees and some business and living community signs.
Farther south, several downed trees and limbs were scattered across Gulf Drive and the Coquina Beach parking lots. A low-hanging power line blocked access to the bridge leading to Longboat Key.
“We’re blessed down here. Flooding was something that everyone was concerned about, we got a lot of ground-level homes. As you can see, it looks like we got a little sprinkle, a little shower,” Woodland said.
Irma made landfall in Naples on Sunday. At 2 a.m. Monday, Manatee County and other areas were getting lashed with hurricane-force winds as the storm moved north-northwest at 15 miles per hour.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. By 8 a.m. Monday, it had sustained winds of 70 mph and was moving further inland.
The Manatee County area remains under a tropical storm wind warning with potential for tropical-storm force winds of up to 39 miles per hour through the day Monday.