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Holmes Beach Police Chief responds to remarks made by Manatee County Administrator

WWSB Tampa 10/4/2022 ABC7 Staff
Holmes Beach Police © Provided by WWSB Tampa Holmes Beach Police

HOLMES BEACH, Fla. (WWSB) - The Holmes Beach Police Chief has responded to remarks made last week by Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes during a press conference prior to Hurricane Ian striking the area.

The remarks were captured in a TikTok video in which Dr. Hopes states " You know when I had the police chief of one of the biggest cities on the island call me on my way here to this briefing to ask that we do not turn the water off so his residents can stay on the island, that’s a pretty good indicator that there’s a problem.”

Police Chief William Tokajer says he would like to set the record straight. He took to the department’s Facebook page to explain the nature of the comments he made to Dr. Hopes, saying the way in which Hopes explained the conversation was inaccurate.

“I did call Dr. Hopes. I asked that he revisit the order to turn off the water to the island on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the Safety of First Responders. Dr. Hopes stated he was on the way to a meeting at the EOC and would discuss and call me back. I did not make the request because I wanted water for our residents who refused to leave, but because our First Responders, the Holmes Beach Police, Manatee Sheriff’s Department, West Manatee Fire and Bradenton Beach Police would not be leaving the island until the wind was too dangerous, which at the time of the phone call was not expected till mid-morning Wednesday,” reads the post.

Tokajer says residents in the area took the orders to evacuate very seriously, coming to the City Hall and the Police Department to get over 1,100 reentry tags for those who where evacuating to be able to return.

Dr. Scott Hopes spoke with ABC7 and said the response was in reaction to safety fears. He was worried about storm surge causing sewage to flood the streets.

“Water goes two ways,” Dr. Hopes explained. “It’s not just water coming into the island, it’s sewage going out and that’s a potential hazard.”

He said once the storm had passed, power was restored to the area within 24 hours.

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