A boat remains sunk in Sarasota Bay just south of the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier. Nine boats broke loose during Tropical Storm Debby and slammed into the pier. Four additional boats sank in the bay and channel. Islander Photos: Mark Young
The so called “mooring field” just south of the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier is no mooring field at all, according to Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale.
Just a few days ago, this couple would be walking on the white sand of Bradenton Beach shores, but following Tropical Storm Debby, the white sand is gone, leaving brown, gritty sand and broken sea shells in its place.
Repairs to the Historic Bridge Street Pier and the removal of wrecked boats around the pier will carry Bradenton Beach’s highest price tag, as a result of Tropical Storm Debby.
Public works director Tom Woodard said no other major damage was reported in the city, other than severe beach erosion, which the county has continued to assess as of presstime for The Islander.
“We held up pretty well considering,” said Woodard. “The erosion is the worst I’ve seen in this area since the early 1990s. But there were no buildings damaged and no damage on the bay other than cleanup costs.”
Flooding was an issue during the storm, especially along Avenue A between 24th and 25th streets.
“It was heavily flooded, but that’s a constant problem area for us,” said Woodard. “It’s the same area we just did the stormwater project and I think that helped a lot. But there was no permanent damage from the flooding. The roads weren’t damaged and there were no sinkholes.”
Woodard said other areas of the city had street flooding issues, but he saw no erosion issues and no road damage.
“I think it would have been a bigger problem had we not already taken steps to address flooding issues in those areas,” said Woodard. “Everything operated like it should have.”
Woodard said Manatee County Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker was already doing site inspections on Island shores.
“I do know he has been out on a number of site visits and is aware of the erosion problems we had,” said Woodard. “They are doing their inspection. I know Katie Pierola Park took a bad hit, as well as a lot of other places.”
Woodard said there isn’t much of a stretch of Bradenton Beach shoreline that didn’t suffer from the storm, “but we had significant damage to two beach-access points that we just spent $50,000 on. They are still intact, but a portion of them went out onto the beach.”
Woodard said the bulk of the work for his crew will be focused on the pier, “and after that, it’s just a lot of clean up. I think we fared pretty well. If the boats had not hit the pier, we wouldn’t be dealing with nearly as much as we are dealing with now.”
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said he hasn’t seen beach erosion this significant since Hurricane Elena in 1985.
“It was the same as this last storm was,” he said. “It just sat out in the Gulf and beat us up for days.”