Caution advised for Isaac, but impact to be light

On the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew Aug. 24, Manatee County emergency management personnel held a briefing with local officials to address Florida’s newest threat.

As of The Islander publication deadline, Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to head northwest in the Gulf of Mexico, brushing Florida’s West coast with the storm’s western most feeder bands.

But the unpredictability of the storm had emergency management officials taking no chances, from state to local levels.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Aug. 24 activated the state’s emergency operations center. As of press time, Manatee County was standing by to await further information on Isaac’s forecasted track.

Bradenton Beach city officials called an emergency meeting Aug. 24 to discuss the county’s emergency management meeting, hoping for the best-case scenario, while preparing for the worst.

Bradenton Beach Police Department Lt. John Cosby asked commissioners for an emergency motion to authorize Mayor John Shaughnessy to sign a declaration of emergency, should the need arise. Such a declaration within the city would put city staff into emergency operations mode.

The motion was approved, but Cosby said he was hopeful the action wouldn’t be necessary.

“This isn’t going to be like TS Debby where we had days of rain and wind,” said Cosby. “It’s expected to be more of a feeder-band event, where we get waves of rain, but not the steady rain we saw with Debby.”

Cosby said storm surge also was not expected to be as severe as it was with TS Debby, “but the beaches are already in terrible shape.”

Forecasters were predicting as much as 8 inches of rain over the storm’s entire cycle, but direct hits from feeder bands could produce heavy downpours.

TS Debby’s rainfall was sporadic across the west coast, with Pinellas County receiving upwards of 10 inches of rain. Total rainfall across the island was about 3.5 inches and local street flooding was an issue, so caution was being taken with Isaac.

“Public works has the high-water signs out and ready to be placed, should it be necessary,” said Cosby.

Cosby suggested residents also prepare.

“These storms, especially tropical storms, can be very unpredictable,” he said. “And tropical storms tend to give us more troubles than hurricanes as far as predictability goes, so the best thing people can do is prepare appropriately.”

Isaac was expected to begin impacting the area with wind and rain as early as Aug. 26. As the storm eye passes the Tampa Bay area Monday afternoon, winds are expected to shift to the southeast, and onshore waves are predicted to be 6 feet.

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