Make us your home page

Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer

Tracey McManus

Tracey covers Clearwater government and general topics in the city. Before joining the Times in August 2015, she spent five years covering everything from education reform to animal welfare for The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was raised in Palm City, Fla., and graduated from University of Florida in 2010 with degrees in journalism and Spanish.

Phone: 727-445-4151.


Twitter: @TroMcManus

  1. South Florida poaches debris pickup trucks once headed to Tampa Bay


    The Tampa Bay area has an estimated 2 million cubic yards of debris from Hurricane Irma waiting at the curb — enough to fill a line of dump trucks stretching 735 miles, or from Tampa to Tupelo, Miss.

    But many trucks that could help make those tree limbs disappear are instead heading to South Florida, where hauling fees have shot up since the hurricane.

    That has left several bay area communities and their private storm debris contractors scrambling....

    Right- Jon Ellis, 31, and his brother Bryan Ellis, 30, back, both of St. Petersburg, clear tree limbs from a neighbors yard on Pinellas Point Drive South, 9/22/17. The limbs were from a large downed maple tree toppled during Hurricane Irma.
  2. Clearwater asks state to amend law

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The City Council passed a resolution Monday asking state lawmakers to initiate legislation amending the Special Act of 1925 so the city can relocate the waterfront bandshell to the site identified in the Imagine Clearwater redevelopment plan.

    The 1925 Act, passed when the state granted Clearwater strips of uplands and submerged lands to construct the Causeway Memorial bridge, prohibits any "carnivals or shows of any character" in the 500 feet north of a boundary that runs by the bridge. That 500-foot stretch is nearly the exact location of the proposed site for the new bandshell. ...

  3. As spice incidents decline, Clearwater consultant suggests more coordinated services for street homeless

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The actual number of homeless people living in downtown streets and parks is not growing, as it has appeared to some city officials and business owners over the past five months, a hired consultant concluded this week.

    Instead, a proliferation of the drug spice over the past year has created a more aggressive and obvious presence as regional dealers hire homeless individuals to sell and users smoke the drug in the open. ...

    Members of the homeless population wait in line before they are fed a meal near the Clearwater Police Department headquarters in June.  EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times

  4. Pinellas County to hire an expert to analyze lessons learned during Hurricane Irma


    Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard has his own opinions about the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma's reign over the area. But he plans to hire an outside expert to analyze what went right and wrong to better prepare for the 2018 hurricane season.

    In a meeting Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, also attended by County Commission Chair Janet Long, Woodard said emergency management staff historically conducts the review after a major event. But with the intensity of Irma's impact before and after landfall, “we'd feel more comfortable having a third party come in.”...

  5. Pinellas beaches seem to have escaped without major erosion issues


    While an official analysis of Hurricane Irma's impact on beach erosion is not yet available, early indications show some optimism.

    "We didn't get a huge storm surge like we feared, so I don't think we have much of a problem with erosion," said Alan Johnson, mayor of St. Pete Beach, historically a problem area. "We did not fare too badly."

    The erosion from Hurricane Hermine in 2016, in comparison, was the worst in almost a decade, according to county beach experts....

  6. 17 floors, 225 seniors, 1 real estate mogul, no power and one sense of community


    CLEARWATER — Tony Hull, 62, rolled his wheelchair into his fifth floor apartment in Prospect Towers and peeked at the thermometer: 81 degrees.

    Karen Datkun, 66, drank some warm water and was still thirsty.

    The 17-story Prospect Towers senior living building was on its third day without power after Hurricane Irma knocked it out Sunday night, and owner Ben Mallah knew spirits were wearing thin....

    Ben Mallah owner of Prospect Towers, a 17 story senior residence in Clearwater, which has been without power since Hurricane Irma came through Sunday night. The facility has a backup generator which is providing power for the elevators, emergency lighting and a few outlets residents can share. Mallah is having food brought in to feed the residents. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  7. Power interruptions cause another sewage spill in Clearwater


    CLEARWATER — Power loss due to Hurricane Irma caused a second significant spill at the Marshall Street sewage plant Tuesday.

    About 338,000 gallons of highly treated sewage flowed into Stevenson Creek, following a 1.6 million-gallon spill there the day before.

    Both spills were caused by a power outage in the main control room and the generator failing to trigger, utilities director David Porter said....

  8. Cell phone service still suffering around the state


    Wireless providers are continuing to assess cell tower damage across the state from Hurricane Irma while customers grapple with service outages.

    About 20 percent of T-Mobile customers in Florida are experiencing disruptions as of Tuesday, including in the Tampa Bay region.

    Some service loss is the result of power outages, and some towers are still unable to be restored because of blocked roads or flooding, according to an official T-Mobile statement....

    Cell phone companies are working to get all towers operational again.Zack Wittman  |  Times
  9. Downtown Clearwater businesses get extra layer of storm protection from Church of Scientology



    Alessio Zavaglia stopped by his Cleveland Street Cafe late Saturday night to do one last walk-through before Hurricane Irma's landfall.

    As he approached the building, there were strangers with gloves and hammers boarding up the storefront's glass windows.

    He wasn't expecting it, but the Church of Scientology had come to secure his business before the forecasted Category 4 winds. And within 12 hours, Scientology volunteers boarded every other storefront in the downtown district too....

    Two panoramic photos of the downtown Clearwater marina. The top photo taken Sunday 9/10/2017 shows how approaching Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Clearwater Harbor. The bottom photo was taken Monday 9/11/2017 showing the water returned to the harbor after Irma’s passing..
  10. Out of the shelter, good news awaits in Clearwater


    CLEARWATER — They left the shelter and pulled home to Clearwater Trailer City a little before 9 a.m. Monday expecting the worst.

    But to their surprise, Claudia Smith and her partner, Gary Bishop, found their faded old single-wide pretty much how they left it before Hurricane Irma.

    They both cracked open a Budweiser and fell into the couch. They had been sleeping in a cafeteria for two days, their cat, Whiskers, cooped up in the animal section. ...

    Nathaniel Oliver, 51, had evacuated with his girlfriend to a friend's house on higher land and returned to the Clearwater City trailer park early to survey the damage. 
He said he came upon a few looters - three guys and a woman - picking up aluminum scraps and checking door knobs. He yelled at them to leave and reported them to the police who arrived for wellness checks that morning. 
A large oak tree he expected to topple onto his trailer was still standing and spared his house. But a piece of a neighbor's aluminum roof fell on his car, swiping off the side mirror. TRACEY McMANUS / Times
  11. A day of dread in Tampa Bay as Hurricane Irma battered the state


    Brickell Avenue in Miami, Fla. was flooded after Hurricane Irma on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS) 1210761
  12. A man and his dog; to shelter or not


    DUNEDIN — Donnie Duncan's German shepherd sniffed the dirt at Caladesi RV Park on Sunday afternoon, while Hurricane Irma's impact was still only a drizzle.

    "She knows it's coming," Duncan said.

    Duncan, 64, and 4-year-old Deja' had driven to the pet-friendly Dunedin Middle School early that morning to check into the shelter, but Duncan said officials told him the school's animal section was full....

    Donnie Duncan went to multiple shelters with his dog, Deja', but wound up riding out Irma at home. TRACEY McMANUS / Times
  13. Dunedin convenience store owner provides last-minute salvation from Hurricane Irma


    DUNEDIN — Qatan Alkhalidi woke up Sunday, was surprised Hurricane Irma's rains weren't here just yet, and decided to go into work.

    He knew nearly all the grocery stores and gas stations around Dunedin would be closed.

    People would need last-minute snacks, drinks, the comfort of one neon "open" sign amid a deserted street.

    He opened Munchee's convenience store on Bayshore Boulevard by 8 a.m. and planned to stay open "until it gets bad."...

    Qatan Alkhalidi woke up Sunday, was surprised Hurricane Irma' rains weren't here just yet, and decided to go into work. 
He knew nearly all the grocery stores and gas stations around Dunedin would be closed. 
People would need last minute snacks, drinks, the comfort of one neon "open'' sign amid a deserted street. 
He opened Munchee's convenience store on Bayshore Boulevard by 8 a.m. and planned to stay open un;til it gets bad. TRACEY McMANUS / Times
  14. On boards, billiards and riding out Irma in a single-wide


    CLEARWATER— Most of the residents of Shangri-La mobile home park were long gone Sunday morning, hours before Hurricane Irma's winds were expected to hit.

    But Don Stover, 60, was outside his aluminum single-wide, screwing mismatched pieces of plywood to the windows.

    He said it was too hot to do it yesterday — his bad heart and blood pressure couldn't take it.

    He wouldn't even consider going to a shelter until the boards were up. By then, it will be too late and he said he'd run to the park's concrete billiards room for cover. ...

    Most of the residents of Shangri-La mobile home park were long gone Sunday morning, hours before Hurricane Irma?€™s winds were expected to hit.
But Don Stover, 60, was outside his aluminum single wide, screwing mismatched pieces of plywood to the windows. Tracey McManus / Times
  15. Waiting and worrying about Irma in Pinellas County shelfters


    Thousands of people are taking the threat of harm from Hurricane Irma seriously in Pinellas County.

    About 20,000 people were holed up in 17 shelters in Pinellas County. All but one, Sexton Elementary School on 54th Avenue N., was still taking evacuees when county emergency officials announced around 11:30 a.m. that evacuees had an hour to get to a shelter.

    There were more than 1,700 special needs evacuees taking shelter and about as many pets. Here are some scenes from inside Pinellas County shelters....

    Bob Elston, 88, and wife Mary Ellen Elston, 71, pass time reading the comics Sunday morning at Ross Norton Recreation Complex in Clearwater. About 90 residents of the senior living facility evacuated there Saturday. (Tracey McManus  |  Times)