Isaac spares Sanibel, Captiva
With Tropical Storm Isaac heading for landfall in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel and Captiva islands are breathing easier today with a big sigh of relief. Isaac blew past with minimal impact beyond minor flooding and beach erosion, far less than with Tropical Storm Debbie.
The City of Sanibel was under a Tropical Storm Watch for most of the weekend, facing sustained winds in excess of 39 mph. There were no reports of tornadoes associated with the storm.
City Hall offices, Sanibel Recreation Center and the Center-4-Life were closed Monday with the exception of public safety and first responders. Lee County Schools, including Sanibel School, also were closed Monday. Garbage collection was suspended on the islands Monday, causing a one-day delay to the regular pick-up schedule for the rest of the week.
All facilities reopened as normal on Tuesday. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge closed Saturday through Tuesday.
There were only a few short term power outages reported on the islands.
Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Road was closed temporarily Monday by high tide water and debris on the roadway.
Sanibel City Council called a special emergency meeting at 7 p.m. Saturday, adopting a resolution declaring a state of local emergency and discussing various topics relating to Tropical Storm Isaac.
“The plantings the city did at Lighthouse Beach Road after Debbie held up well and stabilized the beach,” said Sanibel City Manager Judith Zimomra.
It was a similar story on Capitva.
“There was no significant damage,” said Kathy Rooker, Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) administrator. “We are still addressing the damage done by Debbie with federal agencies. Captiva Drive south of Jensen’s Marina that the DOT stabilized after Debbie also held up well.”
Isaac remains a large storm with tropical storm force winds extending as far as 205 miles from the center. The storm’s forward progress slowed down to about 7 mph as it approached the northern coast Tuesday. Upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday afternoon, the storm made landfall in Louisiana late Tuesday night near New Orleans with sustained winds of 80 mph on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, although Katrina was a much more powerful storm. However, it is expected to dump heavy rain on the region for almost three days as it moves inland through Arkansas and nearby states.
Much of Central South Florida received two to four inches of rain since Sunday morning. Higher amounts of 6-10 inches fell on the East Coast areas of Miami, Palm Beach and St. Lucie, with as much as 9-13 inches in parts of Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties.
The official National Hurricane Center forecast track shifted farther west Sunday, taking Isaac farther off Florida’s west coast. In Isaac’s wake, more than 20 people were killed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The storm blew past the Florida Keys Sunday with little damage and promised a soaking but little more for Tampa, where the start of the Republican National Convention was delayed until Tuesday.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said they would not attend the convention at all to deal with the storm. Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents and visitors statewide to stay vigilant as the storm churned up the central Gulf of Mexico. Scott said Monday that about 60,000 customers lost electricity service in the state as a result of the storm.
Monday, the Gulf Coast of Florida was under a Hurricane Watch east of Destin to Indian Pass. A Hurricane Warning was issued for the northern Gulf Coast from Destin west to Morgan City, La.
The Gulf Coast hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 2008, when Dolly, Ike and Gustav all struck the region.