PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Putnam County officials activated the Emergency Operations Center to a Level 2 on Tuesday morning as they prepare for Tropical Storm Elsa.
The Putnam County Board of Commissioners on Monday afternoon signed a local state of emergency.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Larry Harvey said the county is monitoring the storm so intensely because they’ve had so much rain lately, which means the grounds are already saturated. Harvey expects downed trees and flooding.
“When we talk about activating, we’re talking about all of our stakeholders, our DOT (Department of Transportation) officials, our Florida Power and Light, Clay Electric, our health department in case we have to do an evacuation,” Harvey told News4Jax on Monday.
As of Monday, there were no plans for evacuations in Putnam County.
“We’re going to get a lot of rain from the storm, and another 4 to 6 inches of rain is going to be pretty detrimental in some of our areas,” said Harvey.
According to Putnam County Emergency Management, the county should expect rainfall between 2 inches and 4 inches with up to 6 inches in localized areas. Those who reside in flood-prone areas are advised to take necessary precautions. Rain bands that come across the area contain high winds, with lulls between bands. Higher winds will be experienced along the St. Johns River, lakes and open fields. Power outages may occur due to fallen trees. Residents are urged to avoid traveling during severe weather, take alternate routes to avoid roads known to flood and not attempt to drive through submerged roads. They are also asked to report any downed power lines and fallen trees blocking roadways.
Putnam County Administrator Terry Suggs asks residents to pay attention to service announcements that will be sent out.
“We’re here today. We’ve been here all day. We’ve been here for the last three days, getting prepared for what may be the event that’s coming,” Suggs told News4Jax on Monday.
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Victoria Lord has lived in San Mateo near Dunns Creek since 2002.
“Two trees, we had huge ones, and they went that way, took out part of the dock,” Lord said. “We had a two-car carport out there, and trees from the other side hit it and three of our vehicles underneath it.”
But with all the digging, rebuilding and destruction she has seen from storms in the past two decades, “we live here we love it and keep on going,” she said.
Sandbags will be available to residents in four locations across the county starting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday:
- Huntington Landfill at 1551 County Road 308 in Crescent City.
- East Palatka Community Park at 223 Putnam County Blvd. in Palatka.
- Bardin Volunteer Fire Department at 107 Johns Road in Palatka.
- Chesser Sand Pit at 145 West Washington St. in Hawthorne.
Residents are advised to bring a shovel and be prepared to fill their own sandbags.
Dozens of residents were seen early Tuesday filling as many as 10-15 bags of sand each at the sites. Many said they were doing it as a precaution because they have dealt with flooding or standing water in the past and they want to protect their homes.
“We have a lot of standing water right now, and it’s just gonna be more water,” Bruce Wills said. “I’m not really worried about the wind as much, just the water. We don’t want it to invade our house.”
Annette Zugner moved to the area from New York six months ago and this will be her first experience with a tropical system in her new home.
“A little nervous, our doors are pretty low and even with the rain, we’re already getting it coming up to the doors so you know, definitely don’t want the water in the house,” Zugner said Tuesday as she filled bags at the East Palatka Community Park.
With the Emergency Operations Center being partially activated at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the call center will begin operating at that time.
The number for the call center -- which will be operational 12 hours per day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- is 386-329-1904.