MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Marion County officials, law enforcement and representatives from the National Weather Service held a meeting Monday and said Hurricane Elsa is expected to impact the western areas of the county most. That includes cities like Dunnellon and West Ocala.
The county plans to partially activate its Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning, opening its Citizens Information Line. The line opens at 8 a.m. at 352-369-7500 to answer any storm-related questions.
“We know to expect two to six inches of rain. We’ve already had some rain, so the potential for trees to fall over is very likely and that’s going to cause power outages,” Sgt. Paul Bloom with the Marion County Sherrif’s Office said. “If you are dependent on electricity, maybe on oxygen, make preparations now to have a place to go if your power goes out so there are no interruptions for you.”
Some residents were at Lowe’s in Ocala, picking up last-minute supplies Monday.
“I went to look at a grill, but the storm is coming, and I needed gas cans for my generators,” Donna Abecasis said. “I live out in the woods, so I have to be prepared.”
Others said they are already prepared.
“Last weekend I went to the store and bought enough water for two weeks and some dry kitchen basic staples,” Ben Gleitman said. “I always have a go-bag in the closet which has clothes and medicine that I need if I ever have to evacuate. That’s always a good thing to keep a go-bag.”
Marion County has two sandbag operations in place. One at the Martel Recycling Center located at 296 SW 67th Ave in Ocala. The other at Souls Harbor Church, located at 11808 N. Ohio St, in Dunnellon. Both locations are open from sunrise to sunset.
While Hurricane Elsa may be unpredictable right now, county officials want residents to be prepared.
“We do expect rain and we may have about four hours of severe storm-like weather. Including heavy rain and gusty winds, so if you have lawn furniture or a trampoline, secure it,” Bloom said.
The National Weather Service is forecasting the storm to affect Marion County late Tuesday into early Wednesday.
Marion County does not expect to close any county buildings Tuesday. To receive the latest updates regarding severe weather in Marion County, you can sign up for AlertMarion at www.AlertMarion.com.
As Elsa starts impacting the Caribbean, some residents said they will continue to monitor the storm as she moves closer to Florida.
“I check News 6 weather twice a day always and your app,” Gleitman said.
The News 6 PinPoint Weather App is a great tool to keep track of Elsa and any other storms that may impact your area. The app is free and available in the Apple and Android store.