Hurricane

Tornado hit northwest Bradenton during Tropical Storm Emily, officials say

Officials with the National Weather Service have determined that a weak tornado caused by Tropical Storm Emily hit northwest Bradenton, squashing parts of at least two local businesses.

According to NWS meteorologist Richard Rude, two people from the Ruskin office were in the area Tuesday to investigate whether a tornado touched down as Tropical Storm Emily hit the area Monday.

A public information statement made Tuesday afternoon stated a weak tornado with a peak wind estimated around 80 mph touched down around 10:55 a.m., traveling just above one mile around 99th Street Northwest where Geraldson’s Farm Market and Orban’s Nursery are located. NWS officials determined that the tornado caused $96,000 in damage.

The swift tropical storm quickly built up in a matter of hours Monday morning, hitting Anna Maria Island around 10:45 a.m. with maximum sustained winds clocking in around 45 mph. Five minutes later, a tornado warning was issued for west Bradenton.

Debris was still scattered throughout northwest Bradenton on Tuesday. One of the largest trees felled by the storm was in Hawthorn Park, behind Ed Goff’s home on 13th Avenue Circle NW.

“My wife and I were here when the storm hit, but it was raining so hard we couldn’t see the tree fall,” Goff said. “And that’s only 50 feet away. We’re lucky that huge banyan tree didn’t fall on the house.”

He has a personal weather station on his roof that measured the wind gust at 73 mph.

But the tropical storm was short-lived, reducing to a tropical depression around 5 p.m. as it moved over central Florida.

Street flooding, power outages and downed trees were reported throughout Manatee County, according to county spokesman Nick Azzara, but no major impacts were made to Anna Maria Island.

Greg Geraldson, of Geraldson’s Farm Market, said NWS officials visited the site Tuesday to determine if a tornado had struck.

He said he was sitting in his car at the market’s parking lot Monday morning when things started flying up and hitting his car.

“By the time I turned around, it just leveled,” he said in a phone interview with the Herald on Tuesday. “Man, it was so intense. It had to be a tornado.”

The market that the family sells goods out of had minimal damage, said Geraldson’s daughter Jocelyn. The brunt of the damage was an uprooting of a banyan tree and the destruction of the pecky cypress barn that had been on the family’s property since it was purchased in the 1950s, which served as storage for the farm.

In a Facebook post, the farm shared pictures of a tree ripped from its roots, toppling on top of a building. Flooding, debris and a shattered shed can be seen in another post.

“Looks like a scene from ‘Twister,’ ” the post read, with a shocked emoji.

As the family literally picks up the pieces, they hope to open their market up on Thursday. For official word, anyone can visit the Geraldson’s Farm Market Facebook page.

Orban’s Nursery was also in the tornado’s path, destroying about four greenhouses and the packing barn where they hold their annual Open House.

Tyler Orban, manager of Orban’s Nursery, said he was standing outside 15 minutes before the tornado hit when he saw objects start to lift off the ground. He went inside to the office, right next to the barn, when he “saw the side of the barn start to peel off.” Next, the roof flipped off.

“We’re still kind of going about things as usual,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Another destructive force in Manatee County was stirred up by Emily on Monday morning: an expulsion of 50,000 gallons of sewage.

According to a pollution report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, an influx of rain from Emily had caused the wastewater treatment plant, located at 1810 First St. W., to exceed capacity.

Officials tried to open a by-pass valve to solve the issue, but it malfunctioned and the spill continued for an hour.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse

Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) guide for storm recovery

  • Secure property from further damage or theft.
  • Contact insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report any damage.
  • Check for safety hazards, such as downed trees, branches, downed power wires and leaking gas.
  • Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to the insurance adjustor. Save receipts.
  • Business owners should keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.
  • Ask insurance agents bout what reimbursements of additional living expenses standard homeowners and renters’ policies provide when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage. This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses such as food and extra expenses, like overnight parking and laundry services may be covered.
  • Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster. Contact an insurer, agent, or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers’ compensation before signing contracts.
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