Precautions taken along northern Gulf Coast as Elsa nears

Florida’s Emergency Operations Center elevated to Level 1

Florida’s Emergency Operations Center has been elevated to a Level 1, its highest activation, as the anticipated landfall of Tropical Storm Elsa grows nearer.

Many along the northern Gulf Coast are taking precautions.

Billy Adams, of Jacksonville, wasn’t taking any chances and was pulling his 37-foot boat out of the water at Keaton Beach on Tuesday morning.

“Just came here to get everything battened down,” said Adams.”

The Williams Family from Valdosta rents there year-round.

When asked what made the family decide to pack up and leave, Judy Williams said: “Because we’re going to have a bad surge -- 3 to 5.”

The family had planned to go scalloping and spend the rest of the week in Taylor County.

Instead, Elsa sent the family packing.

“I’ll be honest, everybody’s got a different opinion about it. We just not going to take any chances, take it home,” said V.J. Williams.

Campground owner Spyridon Aibejeris said not everyone is making the same call.

“Some are waiting it out,” said Aibejeris. “If you can wait until the last minute, they wait until the last minute. If not, they get prepared and leave.”

When Hermine came roaring through the same area in 2016, the storm pushed 9 feet of water into the RV park.

“It could be a Cat 1 like we had during Hermine. We’re worried about that,” said Taylor County Emergency Operations Director Kristy Anderson.

Flood maps covered a table in the Taylor County Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday. As of midday, evacuations were voluntary.

“We usually have our storms later in the season, and this is a really early one,” said Anderson. “Usually our peak time is October, and that’s when we usually see storms of this magnitude.”

As of Tuesday morning, the state had called up just more than 200 National Guard troops. Most were pushing supplies out of the state’s Orlando warehouse.

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