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Business owners on St. Armands Circle, Longboat prep for Hurricane Idalia

Alex  Fabrizo taking in signs and other outdoor items from the Publix parking lot.
Alex Fabrizo taking in signs and other outdoor items from the Publix parking lot.
Photo by Petra Rivera
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Bare sidewalks, empty parking spots and only a few cars. 

That was the atmosphere on St. Armand’s Circle the morning of Aug. 29 with Hurricane Idalia approaching the Gulf Coast. 

“I was just telling my family that all the tables and chairs are gone,” said Liliane Kaufman. 

Originally from Switzerland, Kaufman has lived in downtown Sarasota for 23 years, but this will be her third summer here. She was filling in her worried family with the details and ambiance of the area since it will be the first time she is here during a hurricane watch. 

“The circle is empty. It's eerie. I don't know what to expect. I am hoping for the least possible damage.”

People roaming St. Armands and out on Longboat were mostly business owners and people leaving the island because of the evacuation orders issued for the Key.

Omar Abassi of Le Colonne on St. Armands Circle moving outside furniture inside
Photo by Petra Rivera

Most businesses prepared the day before by putting sandbags in front of windows and doors. 

A couple places, such as Cafe L’Europe and Shore, boarded up their windows. The Blue Dolphin Cafe, the Green Zebra Cafe, Alvin’s Island, Coastal HoBo, and Cotton Club, all on the Circle, were open for some time on Aug. 29. The Green Zebra Cafe was open until 2 p.m. Other businesses said they would play it by ear.

Jane Kliger and Meg Callahan were eating breakfast at the Green Zebra Cafe on their way off the island to catch a flight before the storm. They said they were visiting their mother who lives at Plymouth Harbor. Residents were told to evacuate, even with their new hurricane shutters, so Kliger’s and Callahan’s vacation was cut short.

A handful of people went to Lido Beach in the morning and were in the water. Kelley Villela said she wasn’t here for the last hurricane, but she is trying to soak up the beach before she would be in the house for the next couple days. She also pointed to the number of people coming out to Lido to surf and who would probably be out there until around 1 p.m.

Susan Rosell taking in signs from the Publix parking lot.
Photo by Petra Rivera

Publix employee Alex Fabrizio said the store would be open on Tuesday for its regular hours, but he was unsure about hours on Aug. 30. A handful of people were getting last-minute groceries. Employees were packing away signs, taking in carts and removing other objects from the parking lot.

Keith Meyer of Mobil Gas Station said the location saw a lot of business yesterday on Aug. 28 but that Tuesday was slow. They are also playing by ear on when to close. 

John Holcomb was filling up his gas tank on his way out of Longboat. “Anytime they tell me to leave, I leave. We have some people who stayed for Hurricane Ian and they told me the whole building was like moving. They said, ‘We're not staying again.’”

The Sarasota Sailing Squadron saw lots of boats taken home today. 

“It's been my opinion that I didn't think it's gonna be that bad,” said Bill Ferris, a member of Sarasota Sailing Squadron. “And I still believe that. It seems to be going north. But you know what? What are you gonna do? You can't change nature. You just have to be super prepared for these things and that’s what we are doing.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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