Irma arrives, Anna Maria Island spared for most part

thumb image
Here she comes Irma strikes with full Cat. 5 force at the Florida Keys as it turned north Sept. 10 toward landfall at about 3:45 p.m. at Marco Island near Naples. Anna Maria Island saw Cat. 2 winds after 9 p.m. Sept. 10 and through the early morning Sept. 11 Meanwhile, islanders stayed connected on social media, looking for answers about their properties. Islander Courtesy Photo
Irma sailboat Stranded. The Waterbird of Boston takes a break from its mooring Sept. 11 and winds up tied to the fender at the Cortez Bridge post-Irma. Islander Photo: Capt. David White
On an island with Irma The tree-top view of palm trees at a bayfront home from the top-floor window on Sunrise Lane shows the force of a squall moving through Holmes Beach Monday morning, Sept. 11, on the tail end of Hurricane Irma. Islander Photo: J.C. Martinez
Handyman Mark Hrycyk and Jimmy Hart, an employee at White Egret, Anna Maria, board the store’s windows and doors Sept. 7. The doorway was lined with sandbags — all in prep for Hurricane Irma. Hart said the store owners left earlier in the day for a wedding. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí
Bridge Street Interiors/Mermaid Haven owner Deb Myers acknowledged her fear of Hurricane Irma Sept. 7 as she and husband Matthew helped others. Matthew nailed boards in the windows of neighboring businesses in Bradenton Beach as Deb assisted. The Myers have seen other hurricanes hit the state — but not one the size of Irma. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Sun and Surf Resort Wear, 5418 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, was boarded up Sept. 7 ahead of Hurricane Irma. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí
Vehicles cue up in line at Citgo, 3015 Gulf Drive N., in Holmes Beach, waiting to fill up their tanks with gas the afternoon of Sept. 7. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Cortez preps for Irma Bobby Farmer, Tom Polch and Andy VanHook of N.E. Taylor Boatworks raise a sailboat at the 119th Street docks in Cortez in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Old rugged cross The old lighted cross that serves as a beacon atop the bell tower at the Roser Chapel at Roser Memorial Community Church may be a victim of Irma’s winds. It apparently was topped from its mount Sept-10-11 during the storm. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Anna Maria Island residents and emergency responders braced for evacuations before Hurricane Irma.

And they began Sept. 8.

The evacuation became mandatory for people in the A-zone, covering the entire island. Islanders were asked to head to safety on the mainland.

Before leaving, residents ran to city halls for sandbags and re-entry passes as some stores ran out of bottled water and pumps ran dry at gas stations. Some stores, including Publix Super Market, were able to re-stock before closing for the storm.

Meanwhile, island emergency personnel dealt with situation — and emergencies — armed with information and plans.
Watching the weather is a daily part of the job for Manatee County Marine Rescue Chief Joe Westerman, who heads the 14 lifeguards and two paramedics at the mile-long Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach and 400-yard stretch of Manatee Public Beach.

For Irma, he hoped people heeded the evacuation order.

Westerman said the marine division — with all responders ready for 24-hour storm rescue — topping off its equipment with fuel and storing food and water for a 24-36 hour response to emergencies and rescues.

Westerman called Irma “a massive storm,” “unpredictable,” adding “a few hundred miles” will make a difference in how the island fares.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Fire Marshal Jim Davis said the agency was preparing for extra shifts, generators, propane, food water and other supplies.

“We’re doing what we’ve always done,” Bradenton Beach Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz said, waiting and watching the models for the storm as Irma approached Florida.

“We put everybody on standby — the officers can be called in at any time,” Diaz said, adding the resources allocated will depend on the hurricane.

Holmes Beach dispatcher Robin Evangelisto was a calm and helpful voice Sept. 6 while answering calls to the HBPD.

She said HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer and Detective Sgt. Brian Hall were attending countywide meetings at the Manatee County Emergency Operation Center.

Tokajer said Sept. 9 after a briefing at the Manatee County EOC, Irma is a “serious storm, huge.”

WMFR and Manatee County’s marine rescue, as well as Sgt. Russ Schnering, who heads the Manatee County Sheriff’s substation in Anna Maria, and BBPD Lt. John Cosby also attended Irma planning meetings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *