TS Debby drenches Island; threatens sea turtles

Tropical Storm Debby meandered northeast through the Gulf of Mexico the night of June 23 and parked itself approximately 190 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The storm’s most severe weather was to its southwest and, from where the storm stalled June 24, sent bands of heavy rains and tropical storm force winds across the Island.

As of 11 a.m. June 25, the storm was moving north, northeast at 3 mph toward the Big Bend area of Florida.

In Bradenton Beach, an estimated 1-3-foot storm surge June 24 sent Gulf waters within a few feet of the Moose Lodge, 135 Gulf Drive S. On the bay, choppy waters rocked boats loose from moorings, sending some slamming into the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

Bradenton Beach police reported damage to the pier, but had yet to assess the damage as of presstime for The Islander.

As of June 24, at least three small craft had sunk, with one small sailboat meeting its fate on the pier’s rocks. Reports of other boats sinking, including a houseboat in Cortez and one docked on a Holmes Beach canal came in Monday morning.

The Rod & Reel Pier and Anna Maria City Pier both closed June 24. While the city pier expected to reopen at 4 p.m. June 25, the Rod & Reel had some repairs to make.

As of Islander press time, coastal flooding remained a concern for the National Weather Service, as minor to moderate flooding was predicted through Tuesday.

Six- to 10-foot waves were expected to maintain the crashing effect on Island beaches, causing significant shore erosion.

Manatee County officials were still assessing damage as of press time. According to Laurie Feagans, Manatee County chief of emergency management, emergency operations center personnel planned a June 25 meeting to discuss Debby’s present and potential impact.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine advised people planning a trip to the Island to delay those plans June 24, while heavy rains and flooding temporarily closed Marina Drive.

As of Monday morning, Marina Drive was reopened with traffic slowing considerably in front of the Island Branch Library and Holmes Beach City Hall, where roadway waters measuring some 6 to 8 inches deep in areas.

Rain totals from Sunday through Monday morning varied across the Gulf Coast, with some areas receiving up to 10 inches of rain.

While TS Debby still in the Gulf, an estimated 3-5 inches of additional rain was forecast for June 25-26 in some areas. Storm forecasters reported Debby’s path was difficult to predict with no real driving force in the atmosphere to push the storm one way or the other.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge linking Manatee and Pinellas counties was closed during the afternoon of June 24 and remained closed June 25 by presstime for The Islander.


Turtle trouble

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox reported a possibility of “significant nest loss” due to storm surge beginning Sunday.

“Thanks to a lot of people volunteering, we were relocating nests most of Sunday morning,” said Fox. “But by 1 p.m., it was getting too bad on the beaches and I had to pull volunteers from the beach.”

Fox said one of those nests was from a green turtle, which came ashore to lay her eggs Saturday. Green turtle nesting is significantly less common on Anna Maria Island compared to the loggerhead turtles.

Fox said the green turtle nest, as well as several loggerhead nests were relocated to Coquina Beach “where the sand is still high and dry.”

Fox was still assessing the potential loss of nests, as of press time Monday.



Gulf of Mexico waters Sunday churn just feet away from Moose Lodge 2188, 110 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, as Tropical Storm Debby churned offshore. The storm didn’t stop beachgoers though as these seashell hunters look for shells deposited on shore by the storm. Islander Photos: Mark Young


 Bay waters spilled over into the roadway just south of the Bridgetender Restaurant, 135 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. The road was under 6 inches of water Sunday.

Vacationers didn’t let Tropical Storm Debby let them get in the way of returning home with a souvenir Sunday at Coquina Beach. With the fury of Tropical Storm Debby in the background, photo opportunities were aplenty.


A boat slams up against the floating dock Sunday next to the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier, as Tropical Storm Debby lashed the Island with heavy rain and high winds. Islander Photo: Courtesy Kimberly Kuizon.


Black skimmer chicks were in need of rescue from Longboat Key Sunday during Tropical Storm Debby. The baby birds were rescued by Wildlife Inc. of Bradenton Beach. Dozens were rescued from the storm. Islander Photo: Courtesy Gail Straight


Island resident Kimberly Kuizon, left, is on the job June 24, reporting and shooting video of the high surf and vactioners at the Gulf Boulevard beach in Anna Maria for ABC-TV Action News. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Street flooding closed Marina Drive in Holmes Beach down overnight Sunday. The road reopened Monday morning, but was still under as much as 8 inches of water by morning work commute. Islander Photo: Courtesy Kimberly Kuizon


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