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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 7, 2021 4 months ago

Longboat Key dodges most of Elsa's wind and waves

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It appears Tropical Storm Eta in November 2020 caused Longboat Key more damage than Hurricane Elsa.
by: Mark Bergin and Nat Kaemmerer

Longbeach Village resident Miles Shaw spent Wednesday morning picking up debris from his yard after Hurricane Elsa passed through the night before.

On Wednesday morning, Miles Shaw cleaned up debris from Hurricane Elsa outside of his Russell Street home.

Shaw said he felt relieved the effects from Elsa weren’t too harsh. 

“It’s a good excuse to sweat, I’ll tell you that,” Shaw said of his cleanup efforts. “It’s not too bad today. Most of the stuff either broke off, or was broken in place and I trimmed it.”

Shaw’s neighbor Fred Kagi insisted Elsa was not as severe as Tropical Storm Eta in November 2020.

“It’s not even the same storm,” Kagi said. “Not even close.”

Kagi monitored the storm from Colorado, but had someone put sandbags around his home.

“I didn’t get the chance to see how they worked,” Kagi said. “I hope I never do.”

In April, Kagi completed $80,000 worth of repairs to his Russell Street home caused by the damages from Eta. Kagi said Elsa did not cause his yard any damage.

Some streets in the Village neighborhood had some sitting water.

Water had accumulated on Wednesday morning at the intersection of Lois Avenue and Broadway in the Longbeach Village neighborhood near Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant .

“We didn’t have nearly the flooding we expected,” Shaw said. “I guess the surge must have not really hit this part of the Key, and that’s just because of high tide. It backs up.

“People shouldn’t drive through because it’s saltwater. It really wrecks your brake calipers and stuff.”

In an email to commissioners, Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town’s initial assessment indicated “good news so far.”

“It appears the more intensive winds stayed offshore as Elsa passed by,” Harmer said. “All roads are passable, very minimal street flooding reported, no major power outages and we had just a couple of minor emergency calls overnight.”

Harmer mentioned how each storm is different, and how residents should stay prepared considering hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

“Irma was more of a wind event, Eta was more of a water event and then Elsa turned into kind of a mild event that had a little bit of wind and water, but that doesn’t compare to a Category 3, 4 or 5 storm that might impact us,” Harmer said. “We just have to take each storm one at a time, and we just need to ask our residents to take each one of them seriously.”

Harmer said Longboat Key staff would complete a full assessment of the island, including how Elsa potentially impacted the town’s beach renourishment projects.

“Anytime you have a tropical storm or hurricane come by the coast, that’s one thing that we’re really concerned about is, what was the impact to the beach?” Harmer said. “We won’t know that for a little while.”

Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteer Connie Schindewoll spent her Wednesday morning tracking turtle nests near the public beach access point at 100 Broadway Street.

On Wednesday morning, Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteer Connie Schindewoll was out near the 100 Broadway Street beach access to survey the sea turtle nests and their eggs after Elsa passed through.

Schindewoll examined a few dozen turtle nests in a 1-mile stretch along the beach in Longboat Key. She said about three-fourths of the nests she surveyed are either gone or underwater.

“It’s not a happy day for turtles, but you know what, there’s still nests left and there’s still eggs that are going to hatch and more are going to be laid,” Schindewoll said.

Schindewoll described what Elsa was like from her west Bradenton home.

“Our screen door, even though it was locked, kept flying open. I was afraid it was going to break off,” Schindewoll said. “So, I got the screen door and I’m trying to pull it closed and it’s flying, and I’m thinking I’m Dorothy in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ with the door blowing off, but we finally got it tied.”

The landscape of the beach changed a bit. Where visiting Kentuckians Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker had seen a sloped stretch of sand leading into the water yesterday in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive, there was now a steep drop off. Marisa Baker was gathering plenty of good shells that had been washed up in the choppy water, though. 

Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker check out the beach erosion in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key. (Nat Kaemmerer)

On the south end of Longboat Key, Tangerine Bay Club resident Linn Torres compared Elsa to a typical summer storm.

“We had some sandbags out and those took care of any problems,” Torres said. “I slept right through it.”

Fellow south-end resident Sandi Love expressed a similar sentiment. When she went out around 7 a.m., there were only some puddles, and her neighbor's delicate flowers that usually get damaged by the storm were just fine. 

“I live across from the Islandside golf course and there were a bunch of birds and they were in heaven because there was a new little pond there,” Love said. “There were Roseate spoonbills and wood storks. That is only the second time I’ve seen wood storks here.” 

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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