WARE COUNTY, Ga. – Ware County Emergency Management is calling Elsa a rain event. Officials said the grounds are already saturated and they expect to see downed trees and power lines. Ware County is currently under a flood watch.
Nancy Temple lives on Virginia Avenue in Waycross. She took News4Jax into her backyard where the water already sits at her ankles and she knows it’ll only get worse.
“This is just from the little bit of rain we’ve had from the last couple days,” said Temple. “My backyard always floods. It’s ankle deep. It all depends on the rain and could be deeper.”
With Elsa potentially bringing 6 inches of rain in some areas, Temple is concerned for her family and community.
“When it rains a lot, the canal floods and people can’t get out down there,” said Temple. “The school bus can’t get down there.”
Waycross Fire Department Chief David Eddins told News4Jax that storm drains were being cleared out, but did not say exactly how many. He said his crews, as well as city police, are on standby mode watching the latest developments of Elsa. Eddins is encouraging residents to take care of their pets and to secure outdoor items.
“My yard is usually underwater,” said Terry Strickland, a Ware County resident. “The ditches don’t flow right. It’s over your ankles.”
Ware County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Daniel said there are 450 miles of dirt roads in Ware County and public works personnel have been out clearing the storm drains. Dirt roads often become impassable with storms.
As tropical storm Elsa approaches Georgia, preparation is key.— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) July 6, 2021
The ‘Ready Georgia’ campaign with @GeorgiaEMAHS provides further guidance on the 3 most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.https://t.co/HvvZixCvP9
In Camden County, officials say they are monitoring Elsa’s movement and are telling citizens to use precaution in areas that may see heavy rain. No evacuation plans and no sandbagging set ups have been announced.
Glynn County and partners are monitoring the track of Elsa as it nears the western coast of Florida.
At this time, the only cancellations and closures for Wednesday include summer programs at all Glynn County Public Schools, Jekyll Island outdoor activities, Glynn County public pools and Glynn County Magistrate Court-Citation Court. Glynn County and the City of Brunswick have no plans to close offices at this time.
There are also no plans to close either the F.J. Torras Causeway or the Sidney Lanier Bridge at this time. If high winds are sustained, the Georgia Department of Transportation will make the decision for any closures.
Use this as a reminder to continue to prepare for hurricane season.
- Finalize your disaster kit.
- Ensure you have at least 3 days of water and non-perishable foods.
- Ensure you have extra medications and medical supplies.
- If your medication requires refrigeration, ensure you have a plan in place should you lose power for an extended period of time.
- Make sure all information in your family communication plan is up to date and everyone knows the plan.
- Make provisions for your pet. Make sure they are inside, out of the elements, and have plenty of food and water.
- Flooding is possible in low lying areas; Turn Around Don’t Drown!
The county will continue to monitor conditions and provide updates as needed. Remember to limit travel during the peak hours of the storm. Updates will be available at www.glynncounty.org. We advise the public to use the latest forecast models from the National Weather Service Jacksonville.
Ware schools closed
All Ware County Schools offices and campuses will be closed Wednesday because of the threat of Elsa, the district announced Tuesday.
All athletic events and practices scheduled for Wednesday have also been canceled.
School has been out since late May, but employees are still working at the campuses, explained Director of Special Projects Paige Coker.
Ruskin Elementary and Ware County High School on the northeast side of town have major issues with flooding on their campuses, Coker said.
Currently, the only school in session is the Daffodil Preschool Summer Enrichment Program with about 80 students. It has been canceled for the entire week, Coker said.
All staff who work during month of July will work Tuesday but everything will shut down Wednesday.
After the storm passes through the area, the district will assess facility and road conditions before announcing plans to reopen to the public.
Those announcements will be made via email and Thrillshare callout to employees and through Facebook, the district’s website, and Thrillshare callout to the public.
Power outages, other effects
Forecasters predict Elsa could hit coastal Georgia and South Carolina after Florida.
Georgia Power offered some tips for customers who might be dealing with power outages this week because of the storm.
- Never touch any downed or low-hanging wire, including telephone or TV wires that touch a power line.
- Never pull tree limbs off power lines or enter areas with debris or downed trees as downed power lines may be buried in wreckage.
- Do not walk or drive through standing water or step onto saturated ground where downed lines may be present.
- Avoid chain link fences. They may be electrified by a downed line out of sight and conduct electricity over great distances.
- Watch for Georgia Power crews working across the state. If driving, move over one lane for utility vehicles stopped on the side of the road – it’s the law in Georgia.
- Protect electronics and appliances. Disconnect or turn off any appliances that will start automatically when power returns to avoid overloading circuits when power is restored.
To follow outage updates and check the outage map from Georgia Power, go to www.GeorgiaPower.com/Storm. You can also report outages and access useful safety tips and information. Customers can report and check the status of an outage 24 hours a day by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.
Cumberland Island National Seashore, Fort Frederica National Monument close
On Wednesday, Cumberland Island National Seashore and Fort Frederica National Monument will close visitor facilities and grounds for the safety of visitors and staff due to Elsa.
All visitors and campers departed Cumberland Island on the last boat at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. Camping is canceled for Tuesday night through Wednesday with the possibility of an extension further into the week, depending on storm damage. Visitors with ferry or camping reservations impacted by the cancellation will qualify for a full refund.
Closures at Cumberland Island NS and Fort Frederica NM will remain in place until severe weather passes, and the National Park Service decides that employee and visitor facilities are safe.
If the storm track changes, the parks may issue a new advisory with updated status, including any lifting of closures. Please check “Alerts” on the park website for current information. The NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response has updates for all National Park Service sites.
Golden Ray removal paused
Officials announced Tuesday that efforts to remove the capsized cargo ship Golden Ray from St. Simons Sound will be paused until after Elsa passes through.
“We are securing vessels and equipment at local response facilities and inside the wreck site in accordance with our Heavy Weather procedures because this area is currently in a tropical storm watch,” U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Himes said. “Of course, our planning folks are constantly updating all personnel with critical forecasts as to the path and projected strength of Elsa.”
Himes said cutting operations would resume on section six after “any effects from Elsa subside and our assessment teams ensure the overall safety of the wreck site.”