Central Florida counties on standby as Elsa approaches

Region could feel impacts from storm this week

As Elsa churns through the Caribbean on a projected path toward Florida, local leaders are monitoring the situation and preparing in case the region sees significant impacts.
As Elsa churns through the Caribbean on a projected path toward Florida, local leaders are monitoring the situation and preparing in case the region sees significant impacts.

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Elsa churns through the Caribbean on a projected path toward Florida, local leaders are monitoring the situation and preparing in case the region sees significant impacts.

On Sunday, Orange County leaders said as of now, there’s no need to open shelters.

“Some of the areas, such as the Orla Vista area, we gave already gone out and lowered the lakes in those areas in preparation,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

However, while Orange County leaders are predicting minimal impact for the county as of now, they’re also taking proactive steps to make sure they’re ready and encouraging residents to consider making plans.

“Make sure your car is filled with gas, because if this thing shifts any further east, we know everybody is going to be running to the gas station,” said Carlos Durden, Orange County’s assistant emergency manager. “Make sure your batteries are changed.”

Along the coast in Volusia County, folks in Daytona beach picked up sandbags at the city’s public works office as they brace for any possible impact.

In Seminole County, emergency leaders sai they’re offering sandbags Monday morning and they’re getting generators ready. They are also ready to possibly open shelters if necessary.

“Our law enforcement are getting their specialized vehicles so they can get into locations that may be necessary using more of an armored type vehicle to get through and help people, as well as the fire department special operations,” said Alan Harris, emergency manager in Seminole County.

Elsa is a tropical storm as of Saturday afternoon. Current projections show it moving over Cuba the weekend and up into Florida by Tuesday morning.

[EXPLAINER: It’s Atlantic hurricane season: Do you understand what ‘the cone’ really is? | Here’s what we know about Elsa]

While the path could change between now and then, Floridians should take the time now to prepare for rain, wind and the potential loss of power.

No emergency operations centers have been activated locally just yet. Instead, officials are in wait and see mode to decide what exactly will be needed in the coming days. The governor did declare a state of emergency for some counties Saturday afternoon ahead of the storm.

Check out the information below to see how local counties are preparing.

Brevard County

Right now, the emphasis is on monitoring the storm and preparing in case the emergency operations center needs to activate.

Flagler County

Officials say they are continuing to monitor the storm and telling residents to be prepared from tropical storm-like conditions.

Marion County

Robert Sullivan, the special needs coordinator for Marion County Emergency Management, said a decision will be made Saturday about whether the emergency operations center should be activated depending on how Elsa hits Cuba.

Orange County

“Orange County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) status is monitoring at a Level 3. Level 3 is typically a ‘monitoring phase.’ Notification will be made to those Emergency Support Functions and/or departments who would need to take action as part of their everyday responsibilities.

“Currently, Orange County Emergency Management teams are monitoring weather conditions and the storm’s path. County staff is conducting storm preparation and working through the communication plan for reporting to the EOC, if necessary.

“We encourage residents to pay attention to weather reports and utilize the county’s emergency messaging through OC Alert for current conditions in Orange County. We also ask residents to monitor Orange County’s social media.

“Over this long holiday weekend, we urge residents to stay alert and be prepared. This is the time to inspect their homes and property and check their hurricane emergency kits. Residents can watch this preparedness video for ideas. For any other information, they can visit: www.ocfl.net/storm for the latest updates,” a spokeswoman said.

Osceola County

“The Osceola County Office of Emergency Management is actively monitoring Hurricane Elsa, the first Atlantic hurricane of 2021. Potential impacts to Osceola County could include gusty winds and sustained rains, beginning as soon as Tuesday morning.

“Florida is no stranger to dealing with disasters and there are a wealth of resources online to help prepare for Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and runs through November.

“Osceola County residents should review their disaster preparations and #GetAPlan! The following tips are appropriate for Elsa and other tropical systems:

  • Residents should secure loose outdoor equipment and yard debris, and check on pantry and medical supplies – and prepare a disaster supply kit, including food and water.
  • Sandbag distribution is NOT PLANNED at this time.
  • To prepare a plan for your family and/or business, including how to stay safe during a hurricane or tropical storm, please visit Florida’s Disaster Preparedness site at https://bit.ly/323mpkg
  • For the latest weather updates, including storm tracking and forecasts, please visit and follow US National Weather Service Melbourne Florida: www.weather.gov/mlb/ and the National Hurricane Center (noaa.gov).
  • The Osceola County Office of Emergency Management provides resources on its website, https://readyosceola.org
  • To receive real-time updates via phone, text or email simply text the word #AlertOsceola to 888777 on your mobile device or online at https://alertosceola.org

“The Road & Bridge team has fueled and staged all equipment, reviewed all response procedures with staff, is monitoring low-lying and flood prone areas, and are ready to deploy necessary equipment should the need arise. Solid Waste is working with the residential services contractor, Waste Management, to provide information to residents on how to prepare for the storm as it relates to household waste and yard debris. This information is currently posted at www.osceola.org/agencies-departments/public-works/solid-waste/.

“Extended guidance on Hurricane Elsa remains very diverse. With the current forecast, Elsa would most likely bring tropical storm force winds to our general area around Tuesday morning – and earlier gusts and associated tropical showers and storms and a forecast cumulative rainfall total of 1 to 3 inches with higher amounts in areas receiving thunderstorm activity are expected,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

Seminole County

“Seminole County Office of Emergency Management and partners are closely monitoring Hurricane Elsa while preparing critical resources in the event of an imminent threat of tropical storm or hurricane conditions to Central Florida. While the storm track remains uncertain, residents are encouraged to make a plan, get a kit and stay informed,” a news release read.

The county has fueled generators, prepared sandbag sites and reviewed plans. Click here for sandbag locations.

The county provided the following tips for residents:

MAKE A PLAN

  • Have enough supplies to last for three days in the event of power outages or other storm effects;
  • Know when, where, and how to shut off water, gas, and electric main sources to your home in event you lose service; this prevents issues once service is restored;
  • Make arrangements for pets and livestock in advance;
  • Plan how you will stay in touch with family if you become separated; ensure contacts are up-to-date;
  • Prepare your home by removing or securing potential projectiles;
  • Check your insurance coverage; take photos of your home and valuable items;
  • Identify the safest place in your home, away from windows and on a lower-level;
  • Know where you will go, a shelter or friend/relative’s home, in the event of evacuations;
  • Residents with enhanced medical needs (electricity dependency for medical devices, refrigeration for medications, etc.) should enroll in the County’s Special Needs Registry by visiting PrepareSeminole.org or calling 407-665-5102 (Monday-Friday, 8:00a.m.-5:00p.m.).

GET A KIT

  • Store all contents and important documents in a waterproof container;
  • Ensure pre-bottled water in your kit is less than six months old; have a gallon of water per day per household member;
  • Have a five day supply of non-perishable food for every household member, including pets;
  • Include a first aid kit with medications and prescriptions (if necessary);
  • Find a full list of items at PrepareSeminole.org.

STAY INFORMED

  • Register for emergency alerts at AlertSeminole.org;
  • Opt-in to storm-specific text alerts by sending ELSAINFO to 888-777;
  • Monitor County social media accounts and PrepareSeminole.org for updates;
  • Call the Citizens Information Line at 407-665-0000 (Monday-Friday, 8:00a.m.-5:00p.m.);
  • Watch SGTV online at SeminoleCountyFL.gov/SGTV, on YouTube or Spectrum channel 498.

Sumter County

County administrator Bradley Arnold said the emergency operations center is not activated but staff members have been contacted in case that changes. They’re also making sure they have reserve fuel and procedures in place in case shelters need to open.

“Having gone through (Hurricane) Irma, those were some of the heavier winds, so we are keeping an eye on that. We are also looking at current water levels. The water levels appear normal since we’ve been getting normal rainfall so as far as water levels go, we have capacity,” Arnold said.

Volusia County

Volusia County officials are monitoring the storm and plan to make a determination later in the weekend if operations need to be ramped up. The City of Daytona Beach is offering sandbag supplies on Sunday, July 4, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the city’s public works facility at 950 Bellevue Avenue. Residents are asked to bring their own shovels.


About the Authors:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.