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Anna Maria drenched but unwounded by Debby

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Tropical Storm Debby dumped an estimated 8-10 inches of rain on Anna Maria June 23-25 and, predictably, most of the city was flooded for several days, said Mayor Mike Selby.

“But there wasn’t any real damage to homes or structures,” he said.

Selby said he and public works supervisor George McKay had no reports of homes damaged by wind or trees.

“We had a lot of limbs that came down and lots of streets flooded,” the mayor said.

There were some downed Brighthouse Network cable lines, he said, but no power lines or telephone lines tumbled.

Selby said he and McKay inspected the city Sunday evening, June 24, and were out in the pouring rain securing some of the fallen cable lines.

“We just secured them so they would not become a danger to motorists,” Selby said. “But we both took a good soaking that night.”

Most of the flooding was along North Shore Drive and intersecting streets, he said, which is typical in Anna Maria during rainy periods.

Because the rains came for several days, drainage systems could not keep up with the downpour, Selby said. Low-lying areas such as along North Shore Drive and intersecting streets became lakes and streams for several days, he said.

McKay and his crew were out June 24, putting up signs advising motorists of high water on the roads.

Many of the city streets were still flooded June 26, but bright sunshine June 27 began to reduce standing water.

Particularly hard hit was the 800 block of North Shore Drive, McKay said.

The Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant weathered the storm in good shape and no damage was reported by manager Dave Sork to either the restaurant or the pier. The pier was closed June 24, but reopened at 4 p.m. June 25.

Not so for the Rod & Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Drive, which is owned by the same entity that leases the city pier.

Manager Dave Cochran said water backed up the drainage pipes, forcing him to close the facility June 23. The utility lines for the pier run under the decking, which often results in problems in a storm event.

By Friday, June 29, Cochran was calling workers to come in for their shifts.

While the storm did no real physical damage, it was a good practice session for everyone, Selby said. City hall remained open Monday, June 25, despite the weather conditions.

“Imagine if this had been a real hurricane. We got a chance to practice our emergency procedures. I hope everyone in the city understands hurricane preparedness and knows the evacuation route,” he said.

One good thing came from Debby, according to the Manatee County Utilities Department.

Many of the county’s depleted water reservoirs were replenished by the rains from TS Debby, a spokesperson for the department said.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Andy Price said the storm eliminated much of the danger of wildfires that can occur in April and May — the height of the dry season in Florida.

Manatee County Emergency Operations Director Laurie Feagans opened the emergency operations center on June 25 and briefed county and municipal officials on what the storm was doing to the area.

“It was good practice for the real thing,” Feagans said.

“There was a lot of flooding and some wind damage. It was a pretty intense storm and I think everyone realized what might have happened had it been a hurricane striking our area,” she said.

 

State has hotline for
Debby damages

The Florida Division of Emergency Management business function has opened a private-sector hotline for businesses, economic developments, organizations and others in Florida to report any damages or losses from Tropical Storm Debby.

The hotline number is 850-410-1403.

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