Inland Northeast Florida counties expected to take brunt of local effects from Hurricane Idalia

Emergency officials say if enough rain falls it could flood almost anywhere and strong winds could knock out powerlines.

Officials want people to take the storm serious because its not like recent storms...

Adam Carey is getting sand bags to protect his home, ahead of Idalia.

“I am going to try to leave as may as i can for folks near the river. but just enough to protect our garage and our door,” said Adam Carey who lives in Columbia county.

Carey wonders how bad this storm will be for Columbia county.

“Usually when it rains anything our ditches aren’t very deeps and we’ve tried to dig them out but usually the water just builds up and up and if these thunderstorms are going to flood us then what is this going to do?”, said Carey.

As Carey and many others prepare for the storm, county officials are trying to warn as many residents as possible, ahead of Idalia’s arrival.

“Well right now Jenese this is a storm like we have never seen before being an inland county,” said Shayne Morgan, Emergency Management Director of Columbia county.


Flash flooding is possible Wednesday through Thursday

Hail strong winds and even tornadoes are possible as well

“It is just something unprecedented for our community and we want the citizens and visitors to take very seriously,” said Morgan.

Columbia, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Baker and Hamilton counties are all warning residents’ severe weather that will be here in the next 24 hours and providing shelter for anyone who needs it.

Tracking the Tropics | Know Your Zone | Hurricane Survival Guide

Here’s what you need to know county-by-county:

Columbia County

Columbia could be one of our hardest-hit local counties with the potential for heavy damage and flooding with the most likely time of arrival between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Hurricane winds are possible for the area with Tropical Storm conditions most likely.

These are the WIND THREATS Columbia County residents should be preparing for:

  • Extreme southwestern Suwannee and extreme western Gilchrist, near Suwannee River: category 3 with higher gusts
  • All other areas south & west of I-75: category 2 with higher gusts
  • Remainder of Hurricane Warning area northward to Pearson, Alma, Blackshear, Nahunta, Folkston, Gainesville AND Coastal Georgia: category 1 with higher gusts
  • Tropical Storm Warning Area N and W of a line from Ocala to St Augustine 60 to 73 mph with hurricane force gusts

Normal County operations and meetings have been suspended in lieu of human resource reallocation.

Emergency shelters opened:

  • Fort White High School- 17828 SW SR47 (Ft. White)
  • Richardson Community Center-255 NE Coach Anders Ln
  • Winfield Community Center 1324 N W Winfield St
  • Westside Community Center 431 SW Birley Ave
  • Westside Elementary (special needs shelter)- 1956 CR 252B


  • If you are planning to utilize a special needs shelter plan to bring all medical equipment that you require AND One caregiver. The caregiver will provide the majority of your care, Health Department staff are there to assist, when needed.
  • Pets are not allowed, only service animals.
  • Plan to bring food.
  • Special needs shelters are a last resort, you should plan to stay with family or friends, or a hotel as a first option.

Other Announced Office Closures & Considerations

  • Chief Judge Melissa G. Olin has decided to close court operations circuit-wide on Wednesday (8/30) in light of the approaching storm. The resumption of court activities is anticipated on Thursday if we have power and internet connectivity. Please monitor the local media and our website ( for additional information.
  • Columbia County Tax Collector’s Office Closed till Thursday 8/31
  • Columbia County Health Department operations closed till Thursday 8/31
  • Columbia County Schools closed till Thursday
  • Columbia County Property Appraiser closed till Thursday 8/31
  • Public Safety Vehicles will take shelter when winds reach a sustained 45 mph and resume when the conditions are stabilized.

Baker County

Baker County emergency management asks that you evacuate before the storm if you live in a low-lying, flood prone home, or a mobile home. This has the possibility to be a catastrophic storm for the county. County and Municipal Offices will be closed on Wednesday. All administrative staff and non-essential employees will be sent home.

The Baker County School District will close schools Wednesday and Thursday. The General Population Shelter located at Macclenny Elementary School, 1 Wild Kitten Drive in Macclenny, and the Special Needs Shelter at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital located at 159 N 3rd St in Macclenny opened at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Emergency Operations Center is fully activated. Please make sure you are prepared for a potentially dangerous storm. Take a moment to check on the vulnerable and elderly in your neighborhoods. Please call BCSO at 904-259-2861 if you or someone you know needs assistance.

Putnam County

The Putnam County Emergency Operations Center is fully activated and preparing for the imminent landfall of Hurricane Idalia.

The Putnam County EOC activated to a Level 1 at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Representatives from county and municipal agencies are present and ready for response.

Putnam County is anticipating tropical storm-force winds with hurricane-force gusts. Expected rainfall totals are between 1 ½ to 3 inches. Tornadoes are a possibility as well.

Putnam County schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. County offices are closed and will reopen when buildings have been determined to be safe for return.

The county landfills will remain closed on Wednesday. County garbage pickup will be suspended on Wednesday. Citizens are encouraged to not put garbage cans and recycling out to reduce debris.

As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Putnam County issued a recommended evacuation for mobile homes, older homes, flood-prone areas along the river, and low-lying areas, due to the increased probability of strong tropical storm force winds and hurricane strength gusts. We are particularly concerned about the western portion of the county, including Hawthorne, Melrose, Johnson, Interlachen, and Florahome.

Shelters opened at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Those who live in mobile homes are encouraged to seek more substantial sheltering. The shelters and addresses:

  • Kelley Smith Elementary School (special needs), 141 Kelley Smith School Rd., Palatka
  • Ochwilla Elementary School (pet friendly), 299 State Rd. 21, Hawthorne
  • Jenkins Elementary School, 251 County Rd. 315, Interlachen
  • Browning Pearce Elementary School, 100 Bear Blvd., San Mateo
  • Middleton Burney Elementary School, 1020 Huntington Rd., Crescent City

The Citizen Information Call Center is open and operating 24 hours until further notice. The number is 386-329-1904. Citizens can call this number with any questions, concerns, or reports.

“We have been monitoring and preparing for this storm since Friday,” Terry Turner, chairman of the County Board of Commissioners said. “We want residents to take the threat seriously and to remain safe throughout the event.”

For more information, please visit the Putnam County Emergency Management website at, the Putnam County Emergency Management Facebook page at, or call the citizen information call center at 386-329-1904.

Bradford County

Bradford County is under a local state of emergency.

A hurricane shelter opened at the Bradford County Fairgrounds at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Alachua County

Alachua County has opened two general population, pet-friendly shelters, and a special medical needs shelter.

The two general population shelters are at:

  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center, 1028 N.E. 14th Street, Gainesville
  • The Easton-Newberry Sports Complex, 24880 N.W. 16th Avenue, Newberry

The special needs shelter is at:

  • The Alachua County Senior Recreation Center, 5701 N.W. 34th Boulevard, Gainesville

Those needing more information about the special needs shelter should call 352-955-2575. Those needing transportation to the special needs shelter should call as soon as possible.

Please consider evacuation if you don’t feel safe.

Alachua County has an Evacuation Order for those who live in mobile or manufactured homes or if you live in flood-prone areas. If you have flooded during previous storms, you need to evacuate.

Special needs shelters provide one cot per patient. Caregivers are asked to bring any needed bedding in case cots are unavailable. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods and any prescription medications. Also, bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.

General population shelters do not provide cots or beds. Bring any needed bedding. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods, baby food, diapers (and other child necessities), prescription medications, and a small cooler of ice if refrigeration is needed, as the shelter cannot be responsible for your medications. Also, bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.

Alachua County Animal Resources is closed Wednesday as they are focused on staffing pet-friendly shelters. The public will be informed when it reopens.

Citizens with pets are encouraged to bring basic pet supplies such as collars, leashes, crates, carriers, towels, blankets, pet medications, pet food, etc.

Animal Resources will have supplemental supplies on hand for those in need. We encourage citizens to bring veterinary records indicating their pets are properly vaccinated. However, animals without such records will be vaccinated upon intake to minimize the spread of contagious diseases. Please remember that animals must be properly restrained throughout their stay at the emergency shelter for the safety of all involved citizens and pets.

City-owned parking lots and garages in Gainesville will not enforce any parking fees for the duration of the storm. Parking in city-owned parking lots and garages will remain free through 6 p.m. Thursday.

All waste and recycling collection will be suspended Wednesday for city residents and is expected to resume on Thursday. Thursday service is expected to occur on Friday.

You can find all the latest information for Alachua County at If you don’t have internet access or need additional information, dial 311 from your phone. If you live outside Alachua County or cannot dial 311, call 352-264-6557.

To receive all updates on County operations in response to Idalia, please text ALACHUA to 888-777.

You can check the latest forecast at

For more information, contact Alachua County Communications Director Mark Sexton at 352-264-6979 or

Union County

Any resident living in mobile homes or substandard housing needs to evacuate to family homes that are sound, evacuate out of the area, or evacuate to the Union County shelter at Union County High School.

The Union County EOC is at level 1 activation for the duration of this event.

Hamilton County

Hamilton County is urging residents who live in campers, mobile homes and substandard homes to seek shelter with family or friends or as a last resort, at the Hamilton County High School.

Expect downed trees, powerlines and road closures.

All residents are urged to remain at home on Thursday to allow First Responder and Power Companies to respond.

If you need assistance, please call the Hamilton County Emergency Management at 386-792-6647.

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