County Commission declares state of emergency to respond to Debby

A Sarasota County Emergency Management PowerPoint presentation shows SaraSea Circle flooded on Siesta Key.

The Sarasota County Commission today, June 26, unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a state of emergency related to Tropical Storm Debby’s effects on the area.

That action authorizes the use of public funds in response to storm damage and allows the county to seek any state and federal financial assistance, if such funds become available.

Ed McCrane, the county’s emergency management chief, had requested the action.

The commissioners’ vote followed remarks McCrane made at the end of their regular business session, held at the Administration Center in downtown Sarasota.

In an approximately 9-minute PowerPoint presentation, McCrane said, “The good news is Debby should be making her way across the state later this afternoon and evening.”

He had learned from the National Weather Service prior to his 4 p.m. appearance before the board that Debby most likely would enter the state north of Cedar Key in Dixie County, he said.

Once the storm was over land, he said, Sarasota County should see only minimal effects from it.

The forecast called for another 4 inches of rain in the central part of the state through tomorrow morning, McCrane added. “We’ll probably see 1 to 2 [inches] in this area,” unless the storm’s path changed, he said.

McCrane pointed out that the county remained under a tropical storm warning.

County staff was keeping a close watch on the Myakka River and other basins and canals, to gauge the potential for flooding, he said.

Additionally, the chance of isolated tornadoes remained, McCrane said.

From Sarasota County to Pasco County, he said, weather forecasters were calling for a combined storm surge, with the tide, of 1 to 3 feet above ground level.

In response to a question from Commissioner Jon Thaxton, McCrane said the Myakka was expected to reach its flood peak today or June 27. However, McCrane added, “it looks like there’s a lot more capacity [in the river] than [forecasters are] expecting.”

McCrane also pointed out that one area on Siesta Key and one area near North Port continued to be flooded, with damage to the first floors of some structures.

McCrane’s presentation indicated flooded structures were at the following locations:

• 330 Island Circle on Siesta Key

• 427 S. Shore Drive, north of downtown Sarasota

• 763 Siesta Drive.

• Three homes at the intersection of Myakka Road and Gause Road, near the Playmore subdivision outside North Port

• 1639 S. Orange Ave. in Sarasota

North Beach Road on Siesta Key was closed from the public beach access to Columbus Avenue because of water and sand on the roadway, according to the PowerPoint presentation, and North Casey Key road was closed this morning because large amounts of sand had been deposited on the roadway. However, the Casey Key road had been reopened at 12:03 p.m. today, the presentation material said.

Richardson Road, just west of Coburn Road, is closed because of a stormwater culvert failure and a partial road collapse, according to a Sarasota County news release issued just after 1 p.m. today.

The news release also urged motorists to avoid the following roads because of standing water:

  • 1393-1394 Harbor Drive
  • The intersection of Proctor Road and McIntosh Drive
  • The intersection of 29th Street and Leon Road
  • 5257 Avenida Del Mar, Siesta Key
  • 4156-4160 Roberts Point Circle, Siesta Key

The news release added that trees were down and blocking traffic in the following areas:

  • Nokomis Grove subdivision
  • Colonial Oaks Park
  • Lemon Bay Park, Englewood
  • Albee Road and Edmondson, Venice
  • Honore Avenue and Kensington Street

Once the water had subsided, crews would check for damage to the roadbeds, McCrane told the commission. County staff already had been in communication with the District One office of the Florida Department of Transportation, he said, to check on the appropriate procedures to follow with those assessments.

The PowerPoint slides also said the U.S. Coast Guard would not open any drawbridges in the county unless a vessel was in distress.

County staff was responding to reports of downed trees and vegetation as those calls came in, McCrane said. In some cases, he added, the material was moved out of the way of traffic, with crews planning to pick it up at a later time.

Shoreline erosion assessments also were being conducted, McCrane said. “A lot of erosion is anticipated.”