Cedar Key Flooded, Isolated By Elena
CEDAR KEY, Fla. (AP) _ Hurricane Elena nearly washed out the bridge to this tiny off-shore island Sunday, isolating at least six residents and two lawmen while the wind bent stumpy cabbage palms nearly to the ground.
Although the storm’s center was miles offshore, three days of gales, rain and frenetic surf cut power and communications, ripped apart homes and drove two boats into the streets.
A 50-foot section of E Street was washed away and a pink mobile home was tilted into the Gulf of Mexico, on the verge of falling in. A house on stilts was isolated when its dock fell into the waves.
Residents and reporters had been allowed on the island earlier Sunday despite a mandatory evacuation, but when the bridge was nearly severed, only repair crews were allowed past a roadblock. The reporters left.
Fred Winans was buying supplies in a darkened convenience store on the island when a Tampa television crew, the last reporters off the island, found him.
″It’s the first time I’ve seen a hurricane here,″ the 10-year Cedar Key dweller told WTVT-TV. ″It’s more rain and wind than I’ve ever seen. I’ve got my house here but I didn’t think it (Elena) would last this long. We’re in a pretty high spot. We’ll ride it out just as long as we can.″
Levy County Sheriff’s Deputy C.P. Adkins Jr. was among the last to cross the bridge to Cedar Key.
He and his father made the crossing with 100 gallons of gasoline, said Juanita Adkins, the deputy’s mother.
A Florida Marine Patrol officer said one of his colleagues also was stuck on the island, holed up in a schoolhouse with at least six residents.
″The school’s up pretty high,″ said the officer, huddled in his patrol car.
A convoy of trucks from the state Department of Transportation carried gravel to the bridge in an attempt to repair it long enough to bring out the stranded.