Every year since 2002, the public works department has lined GMD with American flags.
Hurricane Irma washed away plans for Longboat Key’s Sept. 11 tradition along Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Since 2002, the Longboat Key Public Works Department has honored the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., by lining Gulf of Mexico Drive with 2,974 American flags.
With the worst of Irma expected to affect the area late Sunday and into Monday, the department was not able to place flags down GMD. Town leaders enacted a state of emergency on Sept. 7, followed by a evacuation order on Sept. 8.
In practice, flags were placed every 20 to 30 feet, down the entirety of GMD, which is approximately 10 miles.
Robert Collis, a part-time Longboat resident, was a lieutenant in the New York Fire Department on Sept. 11, 2001 and served at the World Trade Center site for weeks later.
“Everybody felt sorry for the first responders, but he said, ‘This is what we do,’ ” said his wife Nora. “‘We know this could be our last day, but the poor people, the moms and dads and brothers and sisters who just went to their desks, their offices, those are the victims.”