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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

High anxiety for Islanders awaiting Frances

Hurricane Frances is doing what most hurricanes do: Changing, changing, changing.

On Thursday, it appeared landfall was imminent Saturday morning on the east coast of Florida - although that has since changed. In preparation, numerous closures have been announced; however, it's business as usual today on Anna Maria Island.

Like Mel Brooks in his movie "High Anxiety" fears of the storm carrying high winds and torrential rain to the west coast and the already battered barrier islands south of Anna Maria began to take hold.

The Manatee County School District announced that schools would be closed Friday. Manatee County government announced all its offices would be closed Friday. And Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn declared a state of emergency.

And those fears were further fueled by the announcement that shelters in Manatee County were opened Thursday, although the county is merely acting as a "host" for evacuees from the east coast at this time.

Five shelters have opened:

  • Lee Middle School, 305 17th St. E., Palmetto.
  • Manatee High School, 1000 32nd St. W., Bradenton.
  • Lincoln Middle School, 305 17th St. E., Palmetto.
  • Braden River Elementary, 6215 River Club Blvd., Bradenton.
  • McNeal Elementary, 6625 Greenbrook Blvd., Bradenton.

Pets are welcome at three shelters: Lincoln, Lee and Manatee High. Animals must have cages, food, leash and proof of vaccinations.

For residents of Anna Maria Island, trolley and bus service will remain in operation. However, Saturday's planned garbage pickup (in lieu of the Labor Day holiday Monday) is canceled.

At today's 8:30 a.m. Emergency Operations Center meeting, officials announced that a decision on evacuations would be made after the 11 a.m. hurricane advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

EOC officials said the hurricane is now expected to make landfall as a Category 3 storm, with 120-mph winds, on the east coast. Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach Manatee County by 11 p.m. Saturday.

The slow-moving storm could drop between 7 and 12 inches of rainfall on Manatee County, with amounts at some locations predicted to be as much as 20 inches.

Mobile home parks evacuated in face of Frances

Hurricane Frances, a strong Category 2 storm with 120 mph winds, is forecast to make landfall on Florida’s east coast late tonight or early tomorrow morning near West Palm Beach, then move northwest across the state before entering the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa late Sunday evening.

Anna Maria Island is under a Tropical Storm Warning in the face of Frances. A mandatory evacuation of all mobile home parks was issued Friday, Sept. 3, and according to Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, most of the residents of the Pines Trailer Park and the Sandpiper Mobile Resort have heeded the evacuation notice and left.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, winds were moderate on the Island. Rainfall was intermittent, but expected to increase as the storm moves closer to Tampa Bay.

The hurricane is forecast to bring torrential rains to the state as it lumbers across the peninsula, with rainfall predictions at 8-12 inches and reaching 24 inches at some points during the storm’s passage.