ANNA MARIA — When the managers of Ginny’s and Jane E’s bakery and cafe on Gulf Drive on Anna Maria Island tried to get some coffee brewing Sunday morning, they noticed something odd.
No water came out of the tap.
That may have been a panicky moment with Anna Maria Island filled with coffee-craving fall tourists, most who couldn’t make coffee in their motel rooms because of the same problem.
What the tourists and locals didn’t know at the time was that they were experiencing the most drastic, non-storm-related water outage in at least the last 24 years on the island, said Lt. Dale Stephenson of the Holmes Beach Police Department.
Stephenson estimates that 65 percent of Anna Maria Island was without water from about 5 to 11:15 a.m. Sunday.
It was caused when Jason Bond, of Bradenton, crashed his 2003 Acura into a fire hydrant at 73rd Street and Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach just after 3 a.m. Sunday, Stephenson said.
When he hit the hydrant, the car, which sustained about $9,000 in damage, also bent a utility pole, which caused electrical power outages on the island.
Bond apparently left the scene without reporting the accident, leaving his car behind. Around 1 p.m., he came to the Holmes Beach Police Department station to find out where it was, Stephenson added.
Much of the island is still under a boil water alert today.
“That’s because something might have gotten into the system during the incident,” Stephenson said.
Manatee County’s utilities system is advising all customers who were without water service Sunday morning to boil water for consumption.
Tourists and locals seemed to handle the situation with calm.
“Even though the island was filled with tourists, everyone handled it well,” said Ginny’s and Jane E’s Sunday patron, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who had washed her face with toner since she had no water at her house either. “The restaurant ran out to buy some bottled water for our coffees.”
Whitmore said she gave out information to fellow diners as precious as a treasure map — the location of all the port-a-potties she knew of on the island.
The water turn-off by the Manatee County Utilities Department impacted everyone north of the 4000 block of Gulf Drive, Stephenson said.
“I’ve been here 24 years and we had a phone box hit that cut phones out for a lot of residents, but I would say this was the longest water outage due to a crash we’ve had in that time,” Stephenson said.
On Sunday night, the Holmes Beach Police Department issued Bond a careless driving citation and also a criminal citation for leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, Stephenson said.
Bond will have to appear in court and face the charges, which are misdemeanors.
“Either he or his insurance company will have to reimburse the agencies involved,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson estimated the manpower efforts by the Manatee County Utilities Department and other agencies will amount to roughly $35,000.
Anna Maria Island locals, who are used to this kind of thing during storms, made the best of a tough situation, said Mayor Fran Barford.
“At my church, Roser Community, people were concerned that they hadn’t showered,” Barford said. “But we all kidded about it. The church didn’t smell too bad.”
Barford praised the efforts of the Holmes Beach Police Department, Florida Power and Light, West Manatee Fire and the Manatee County Utilities Department, all of whom responded quickly with much manpower.
“I would say all the first responders did a great job,” Stephenson added.
“The utilities crews capped the hydrant, which was cracked. Florida Power and Light had five trucks there.”
The roadway, which flooded, was closed from the 7200 to the 7500 block of Gulf Drive from 5 a.m. to noon.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686