STEINHATCHEE, Fla. – At an 8 a.m. briefing Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis was breathing a sigh of relief that the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa hadn’t been worse.
“We looked at 72 hours ago, I think the impacts have been less than what we thought would be reasonable,” DeSantis said.
But while the storm’s impacts appear to be relatively minor, the governor cautioned that the worst danger may still lie ahead.
“You know, we typically have seen fatalities after a storm passes,” said DeSantis.
The governor cautioned homeowners about removing debris from their roofs, noting that falls from roofs after a storm are frequent causes of fatalities.
State CFO Jimmy Patronis told News4Jax urged Florida residents to be patient before heading out to clean up, saying even trained first responders have been injured when they tried to clear up debris after being exhausted from working through the storm.
“You’ve got to err on the side of caution,” Patronis said. “The ground right now all through the Big Bend area and Northeast Florida is saturated with the rain we’ve had over the last several weeks so those trees are going to be vulnerable as those gusts of wind, those tornadoes will ultimately cause those trees to fall over, bring down power lines, create other catastrophic problems.”
Elsa came ashore Wednesday morning on the northern Gulf Coast and left fairly quietly, trailing a wake of minor flooding and downed trees in Steinhatchee.
The Keaton Beach RV Park was all but deserted, with many leaving their campers behind.
As Elsa came ashore, park owner Spyridon Aibejeris was still worried about rising water.
“It might flood the ground, but I don’t think get bad enough to really damage anything,” said Aibejeris.
Our crew helped Roger Carnes get debris out from under a dock.
“The wind blew this way all day and had the water out. It wasn’t that much of a big deal of storm, but now that it’s passed us, it’s started now to bring in the storm surge,” said Carnes.
Although it appears the state dodged a bullet, it will be good practice for the next storm.
“You know, just caution people,” DeSantis said. “This part of the year is not the major leagues for tropical cyclone activity.”