When it comes to the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Longboat Key, most of the effects were visible mid-Key to the south. Although the north portion of the island showed less damage, downed trees and debris lined Gulf of Mexico Drive on Thursday afternoon after crews had worked all day to make sure roads were clear for returning residents.
Residents were allowed back on the island Thursday afternoon, but water and sewer remained off at that time, and much of the Key remained without power.
The signature of the storm was one of wind rather than water, with several large trees uprooted in neighborhoods, on the Key's two golf courses and along its roadways.
Mark Richardson, facilities and recreation manager of the town of Longboat Key, said the town's Tactical First-In Team started working around 6:30 a.m. Thursday to sweep the island and note issues, and crews began at 9 a.m. to clear roadways, starting north and working south.
He said more of the damage was on the southern end, but it still didn't compare to the debris Longboat encountered during its last brush with a major hurricane. "Debris-wise, this is still so much better than what we had with (Hurricane) Irma," he said.
One Country Club Shores family decided to stay home for the storm rather than evacuate. Anneliese Sandstrom, who grew up on Longboat Key, said she and her husband, Fredrik, felt confident because their house is hurricane-proofed and their power lines are buried. She said they lost power around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and were hoping it would be restored sometime Thursday.
"Luckily, my phone worked the whole time so we had communications," she said. "We bought cases of water and had what we needed. It was surviving. It's not fun, it's like camping."