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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Ivan: The terrible damage to Anna Maria beaches

Anna Maria property owners along North Shore Drive who spent big bucks on some quick beach renourishment sand and revetment two weeks ago (The Islander, Sept. 15) in hopes of saving their property before Hurricane Ivan's arrival saw that money go washing quickly out to sea last week.

Although the center of Ivan missed the Island by about 300 miles, the tail end of the hurricane brought west-southwest winds and currents, abnormally high tides, and 3- to 5-foot waves to the Island, effectively eroding the new beach areas.

Residents between 751 and 765 North Shore appear to be fighting a losing battle with beach erosion. Despite their emergency efforts, Ivan eroded the newly laid beach sand, exposed foundations, breached seawalls, tore down beach access walkways and flowed onto North Shore Drive and many other streets in Anna Maria. The area was not part of the 2002 beach renourishment project, and unless Mother Nature lends a hand, there appears to be little that can be done for the eroded areas, outside of private funding.

But there's always a chance that the beach could come back on its own, said Rick Spadoni of Coastal Planning & Engineering in Boca Raton.

"A northwest current will bring the sand down, but with hurricane aftereffects, you usually end up with a low, wide beach. It depends upon the duration of the north-south current," he noted.

Spadoni, who was the marine engineer in charge of the 2002 Manatee County beach renourishment project on Anna Maria Island, said he and Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker will inspect the eroded areas of the Island this week and attempt to determine if any immediate help is available.

According to Hunsicker, immediate renourishment is possible for those property owners who joined the 2002 renourishment project by signing easements to the county.

Not so for North Shore Drive.

A few property owners in the affected area of North Shore Drive opted not to sign an easement, and renourishment in Anna Maria stopped at Elm Street. Hunsicker said the project could not have skipped a few areas of beach and included just those owners past Elm Street who wanted renourishment.

"There should be something that can be done," said Julie Trouner, one of the North Shore Drive property owners who wanted the 2002 beach renourishment effort in front of her house.

There is. Get the owners who didn't want to sign in 2002 to join up now and Hunsicker might be able to get some immediate renourishment.

"We're trying," said Trouner, "but frankly, a few owners have said they will never sign an easement."

Even after they've lost their beach?

"We'll see," she said. "They said that before Ivan."

She indicated most of the property owners between 751 and 765 North Shore now want beach renourishment. Hunsicker said he did not know if that would be enough easements to allow the federal government to release the funds for immediate renourishment.