Islanders prepare, avoid TS Isaac’s wrath

Anna Maria Island residents took a collective sigh of relief when starting the day Aug. 27, as Tropical Storm Isaac’s feeder bands largely missed the island area.

Heavy rains from TS Isaac tracked up the center of Florida while the Florida Keys took a lashing from tropical storm force winds, but the storm’s west-northwest track spared much of the mainland and barrier islands.

Manatee County Emergency Operations Center lowered its activation level Monday morning as the storm moved further into the Gulf of Mexico, but kept a handful of county officials on hand just in case.

EOC announced all government offices would resume business Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Storm surge was predicted to be light throughout the storm event and as of Islander press time, no major issues were reported on the island. However, waves up to 6 feet high were expected by late Monday afternoon, raising some concern for beaches already eroded from Tropical Storm Debby in late June.

The National Hurricane Center also lifted tropical storm advisories Monday in the Tampa Bay area as Isaac continued tracking toward New Orleans as of press time.

Isaac’s winds remained steady at 65 mph and the storm shifted from a west-northwest track to northwest as of 10 a.m., Aug. 27, according to a National Weather Service advisory.

All three island cities issued state of emergency declarations Sunday, Aug. 26, and closed regular business operations Monday, Aug. 27. Those declarations have been lifted and city business resumed normal hours Tuesday, as emergency operations were suspended.

As of press time, tropical storm watches and warnings remained in effect for much of the Florida panhandle.

TS Isaac is predicted to intensify to a Category 1 hurricane, with a possibility of turning into a Category 2 storm before it makes landfall, according to forecasters.

The storm also is predicted to slow down from its current speed of 14 mph before landfall, raising concerns for the flood-prone New Orleans area due to a prolonged rain event, and severe storm surge.

Isaac is predicted to make landfall in New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, which is estimated to have killed thousands of people.

An accurate death toll from Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans has never been determined.

Officials expressed confidence that the fortified levees, which broke during Katrina will hold up against Isaac, but much of the area is still prone to flooding and evacuation orders have already begun in some areas of the city.

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