It was a much quieter evening than usual on St. Armands Circle Sept. 11. All of the businesses were closed, and only a handful of curious residents walked past the boarded and sandbagged storefronts to take in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Serah Gonzalez and Alex Dehetre were two such residents who said they decided to go for a walk to see the damage done by the storm.
St. Armands Circle was covered in fallen tree debris after Hurricane Irma. Photo by Niki Kottmann
However, all they found were a few puddles of grassy water in the St. Armands Circle Park, along with scattered tree limbs and occasional building debris.
“It was underwhelming,” Dehetre said.
The pair decided to check out Lido Key Beach and the Circle because they thought the damage would be worse on the barrier islands, Gonzalez said.
But the only storm souvenirs the Circle had to offer besides standing water and damaged trees were a broken porch fan outside Taste of Italy and several handwritten “Closed for Irma” signs — one of which, on the window of Dream Weaver Collection, read “Irma Spared Us! Open Tuesday.”
Gonzalez said the storm was nothing like she expected. She stayed with Dehetre and his parents in their condo in Sarasota because she didn’t want to be alone at her place, and she was surprised that they didn’t lose power.
They’ve both been through three or four hurricanes, but Dehetre said none have made a serious impact — probably because Sarasota always seems to dodge a direct hit.
“It could have been a lot worse, but it fell apart,” Gonzalez said of the storm.
Unlike the Circle, Lido Key Beach was buzzing with activity Monday evening.
Some Lido Key residents got clever with their signage following Hurricane Irma on Monday. Photo by Niki Kottmann
Loyal Dodd and a group of friends drank beer and blasted music after deciding to continue their hurricane party into the next day.
“I’m very glad it’s not bad,” he said of the conditions. “We got lucky.”
Farther down the beach, Sarasota residents Izzy and Aimee Carmona played on the shore with their kids, 4-year-old Samantha and 9-year-old Alex, both of whom slept through the worst of the storm Sunday night.
The family of four chose to stay in their home, about 10 miles inland from Lido Key, and stocked their walk-in closet with games and snacks to create a safe room.
“They had fun,” Aimee Carmona said of the kids’ first hurricane experience. “They weren’t scared.”
Their home was not damaged, but a tree fell on one of their neighbors’ homes.
The four came to the beach to see the rough waves and how high the tide was, but Aimee Carmona said she was somewhat disappointed by the lack of shells that she’s accustomed to seeing wash up after a bad storm.
Bradenton resident Todd Test came to Lido Key Beach because he was sick of staying inside for so long during the storm. When asked how he prepared, he smiled.
“We just winged it,” he said.
A few blocks from the beach along Boulevard of the Presidents, the grassy median became an oval-shaped pond after the Sunday night storm. A tree lay uprooted across the street at the intersection of Boulevard of the Presidents and Garfield Street, and down the road at South Lido County Park, several overturned picnic tables were pinned down by fallen trees and tree limbs.
It was much of the same on Bird Key and Coon Key Monday night.
Tree branches scattered the yards of several Bird Key residents, and one large tree lay on its side along the edge of the Bird Key Yacht Club parking lot. The Club itself was unharmed.
Larger debris appeared to have been pushed to the side of the John Ringling Boulevard leading to St. Armands, but one large tree that cracked a small roofed structure near Plymouth Harbor was the most impressive damage on Coon Key.