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Date of Issue: July 14, 2005

Hurricane Dennis brushes Island, producing little damage
hurricane Dennis
Residents on the bayfront saw the brunt of Hurricane Dennis's southerly winds, waves over the seawalls, dock damages and yards and yards of seaweed. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
Click to enlarge
hurricane Dennis
The dredge that arrived last week to begin renourishment of the Islandís beaches moved to safer waters in Tampa Bay near the northern end of the Island, where calm folks fished away the day. Islander Photo: Edna Tiemann
Click to enlarge
hurricane Dennis
Winds from Dennis caused loss of beach in Bradenton Beach and this escarpment in front of Katie Pierola Park. Islander Photo: Dottie Poindexter
Click to enlarge
hurricane Dennis
A death-defying windsurfer braved the wind and waves of the bay near the Rod & Reel Pier Saturday afternoon. Islander Photo: Thomas Aposporos
Click to enlarge

The beaches took the brunt of Hurricane Dennis's blow to Anna Maria Island over the weekend.

"There was probably a 20-percent loss across the beach," said Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker. He said there was significant loss of sand along portions of the beach at North Shore Drive in Anna Maria, at Katie Pierola Sunset Park in the 2200 block of Gulf Drive and at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

However, Hunsicker said, some parts of the beach actually appeared to gain some sand.

Hurricane Dennis, once classed as a strong Category 4 storm, made landfall in the Florida Panhandle just east of Pensacola Sunday afternoon as a weakened Category 3 storm. The Island was impacted by the storm Saturday night and Sunday morning with bands of squalls, high winds and rough surf as the storm passed about 150 miles to the west.

Comparisons between Dennis and last year's Hurricane Ivan, a Category 4 storm that made landfall just to the west of Pensacola, have been ubiquitous.

"I would say that the flooding was worse here with Dennis than with Ivan," said Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter, "but the wind wasn't as bad for us with Dennis."

She said the strong southeast winds caused severe damage to two city docks jutting into Anna Maria Sound, one at the foot of Bridge Street and another at Eighth Street South. The former was almost totally destroyed; the latter had the "T" portion ripped off by the big waves.

"The damage was mostly to the bayside of the city," Poindexter added. Tree debris was minimal, there were no reports of flooding in homes, and only 250 sandbags were picked up from the city, she said.

Holmes Beach fared about the same, according to Public Works Foreman Skipp Nunn.

"It wasn't that bad," he said. There were some localized power outages that were repaired quickly, he said, but no real debris and no home flooding that he had heard of. Sandbags were also available in the city, "but not too many availed themselves," he added.

"We had lots of water from the bay," said Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay, "but not much from the sky."

He said that anyone within 20 feet of the bay along North Bay Boulevard to Bayfront Park "had a beach renourishment project in their patios," and there was lots of beach erosion, but some areas actually saw sand accretion.

There were some branches blown down, lots of palm fronds on the streets, but McKay said he had heard of no home flooding as Dennis passed the Island.

"We fared just fine," West Manatee Fire & Rescue District Chief Andy Price said. The biggest issue the fire district had was "all the fire alarms going off," requiring a response from firefighters.

No roof damage was reported or noted on the Island, in Cortez or in Northwest Bradenton, Price said, and he had three powerline calls. He attributed the lack of any real damage to last year's four near-miss hurricanes in the region.

"This time we were clean and ready to go," Price said.

... Now, about that beach

Charlie Hunsicker summed it up pretty good regarding what the fate of the beach is on Anna Maria Island in the post-Hurricane Dennis atmosphere:

"It's a unique situation with the dredge company here, but the bank account is zero," Manatee County's ecosystem manager said of the company hired to renourish the Island's beaches being poised to start work just as this year's Hurricane Dennis carved about 20 percent more of the beach away from the shore.

Why can't the dredge company just pump a little more sand on the beach, as long as they're here anyway?

"We're going to survey the whole beach again starting Tuesday," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ron Rutger said, "and we'll have some sand numbers within a week and should have answers to those kinds of questions next week."

Rutger said the beach renourishment on the Island, at a cost of $4.2 million, is paid for through Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from the U.S. Congress in the form of special legislation. Those funds, at least as far as the Island is concerned, were targeted to restore the beach to pre-2004 hurricane conditions.

Any additional funding to further restore the beach would require another funding source.

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