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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Christmas surprise: high wind, tide

A strong winter storm hammered Anna Maria Island with winds of more than 60 mph just before dawn Sunday after Christmas but caused only slight damage - except at the Seafood Shack where the docks and some boaters suffered a significant loss.

"It was almost like one of the summer's hurricanes," said Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale.

Particularly hard hit was the Beach House Restaurant in Bradenton Beach, which had its clear plastic protective tarps surrounding two of its decks ripped and tattered by the high winds.

Manager Mike Shannon noted the damage on the Beach House deck was worse than from any of the summer-fall hurricanes that grazed the Island. The tables, chairs and outdoor heaters were tossed about the area and, without some temporary shelter, parties planned there during the current cold weather would have to be moved indoors.   

Another hard-hit area was the waterfront docks at the Seafood Shack restaurant in Cortez. The winds drove the luxury yacht that tours guests at the Sarasota Hyatt, "Miss Sarasota," off its mooring and against several of the structures, damaging both boat and pilings.

In Anna Maria, a house under construction in the 700 block of North Shore Drive sustained damage after the ground floor breakaway walls literally broke away.

Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay said there was some beach erosion but "it was nothing to brag about."

He added that the "normal streets flooded, garbage cans were tossed around and the real estate signs were knocked down, as always."

In Bradenton Beach, Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter said three Australian pine trees in the 2500 block of Avenue C toppled, as well as nine street signs and there was some damage to the Tingley Memorial Library roof.

Some business signs on Gulf Drive were down, including at the Tortuga Inn and Bradenton Beach Club.

Powerlines were also down near Seventh Street North and in the Sandpiper Mobile Resort, she said.

Holmes Beach sustained little damage other than flooding on low-lying streets and some shingles blown off roofs and tree limbs down.

Public Works Superintendent Joe Duennes noted that part of the new roof at the Manatee Public Beach's Cafe on the Beach, still undergoing remodeling, blew off. "As a general observation, I also noticed some minor loss of sand on the beach."

Manatee County Ecosystem Manager Charlie Hunsicker said he had not been able to check the beach for signs of erosion as of Monday.

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