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‘This is Florida. This is how you live’: Baker County residents prepare for Elsa

St. Marys River north of Macclenny at 11.2 feet

As of Tuesday, the St. Marys River north of Macclenny was at 11.2 feet.
As of Tuesday, the St. Marys River north of Macclenny was at 11.2 feet. (WJXT)

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – People living near the St. Marys River in Baker County said Tuesday that the river was high from all the rain they’ve had, but they’re prepared for impacts from Elsa.

On Tuesday, Baker County Emergency Management Director John Blanchard sent News4Jax the following statement about Elsa, saying the county had not opened shelters.

“At this time the Baker County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management has not opened its shelters. We are monitoring Elsa as it approaches our area. Localized flooding due to rain and rising waters are possible. If you are in an area prone to flooding, we ask that you take necessary steps now to protect life and property,” the statement said.

As of Tuesday morning, the St. Marys River north of Macclenny was at 11.2 feet and dropping. Flood stage is 12 feet, and the National Weather Service is forecasting a crest tomorrow at 14 feet, which would produce minor flooding.

Water levels rising near St. Marys River
Water levels rising near St. Marys River

THE LATEST: Elsa | WHAT TO EXPECT: Forecasting Elsa’s impact on Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia | TRACKING THE TROPICS: Interactive map

Josh Whitehead told News4Jax he’s not worried about the storm.

“This is Florida. This is how you live,” Whitehead said.

He said he’s grown accustomed to the area off of Steel Bridge Road by the St. Marys River flooding during hurricanes and tropical storms.

“People in this area have had to boat in and out of their homes,” he said.

Doug Kilgo, who lives on the St. Marys River, recalled boating around his neighborhood during Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012 when the river hit a record crest of 23 feet and there were evacuations.

“The water was almost up to the second block of the house,” Kilgo said.

Parts of Steel Bridge Road were already underwater on Tuesday, so Kilgo told News4Jax he was making sure to stock up on food and water.

“We’re pretty much prepared. I’ve still got to make one more trip to town for bread and peanut butter,” Kilgo said. “If we get 5 to 6 inches of rain, it’s not going to be good.”

Whitehead said some people are taking advantage of the high river.

“It’s a little easier to get up and down the river when it’s got more water,” he said.

The city of Macclenny said that due to Elsa, garbage pickup services will be canceled Wednesday. If your garbage pickup service was scheduled for Wednesday, it will be picked up Thursday. If your garbage pickup was scheduled for Thursday, it will be picked up Friday.

Sand and sandbags were available at the city yard until 7 p.m. Tuesday and will be available again after 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Eight sandbags are allowed per home, and you must bring your own shovel. For more information, call City Hall at 904-259-6261.

This is a special advisory from the City of Macclenny. Due to tropical storm Elsa, garbage pickup services will be...

Posted by City Of Macclenny on Tuesday, July 6, 2021

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.