Inland counties could see worst of Irma's wind impact for Northeast Florida

Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Union counties brace for hurricane

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LAKE CITY, Fla. – Counties inland from the First Coast continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma as the storm tracks north Sunday along the Gulf Coast. Scroll down for the status of each county as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Alachua County

The county is under a hurricane warning and the county Emergency Operations Center is activated at Level 1.

The county issued a mandatory evacuation order Saturday afternoon for those living in mobile homes, manufactured homes, recreational vehicles or homes which might not withstand hurricane force winds and those in flood areas.

The county recommended that people get off roads by 4 p.m. Sunday, but there are no plans to close roads in Alachua County. The county has no plans to implement a curfew either.

All public schools and government offices are closed Friday through Monday. 

The University of Florida's main campus closed Friday. The campus will remain closed through Monday. 

The university will open an emergency shelter inside the Steinbrenner Hall (Building 0110) at 10 a.m. Sunday for affiliated members of the UF community and their families. Entrance requires an active UF affiliation and Gator1 ID. Non-affiliated people must be accompanied by a sponsoring individual with a valid Gator1 ID at all times.

  • No pets or comfort animals will be allowed into the shelter, only ADA service animals are permitted -- Alachua County offers two pet-friendly shelters
  • Each individual will be allocated 20 square feet of personal space
  • Please provide your own bedding (i.e. pillows, blankets, sheets, air mattresses etc.).
  • Basic food options will be provided. If you have dietary restrictions, please bring your own food
  • Don't forget your chargers for electronic devices, and head phones/ear buds for video and audio use
  • Please bring your own medicines and/or medical supplies
  • No re-entry will be allowed after exiting the shelter

A representative from the Counseling and Wellness Center and the Student Health Care Center will be available at the emergency shelter. UF Police Department will provide security.

The emergency shelter will remain open until the tropical storm-force winds from Irma subside, and close when outside conditions are deemed safe by public safety officials. Additional shelters could be opened, depending on demand. Updates will be posted on www.ufl.edu

The Easton Newberry Sports Complex General Population Shelter (24880 NW 16 Ave, Newberry) is at capacity. Those planning to go that shelter should instead go to Oak View Middle School (1203 SW 250 Street, Newberry). Those arriving at Easton will be diverted to Oak View.

Those considering using Special Needs shelters should get there as soon as possible. The supply of cots is shrinking, so they are encouraged to bring bedding supplies (especially caregivers). These items include sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, air mattresses, etc.

View a complete list of shelters in Alachua County (with addresses, shelter type, and an interactive map).

The following parks are closed until further notice:

  • Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park 
  • Dudley Farm Historic State Park 
  • Gainesville-to-Hawthorne State Trail 
  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park 
  • River Rise Preserve State Park 
  • O'Leno State Park 

The Florida Highway Patrol implemented a limited emergency shoulder use plan for Hurricane Irma evacuations on I-75 at Wildwood to the Georgia state line. 

Alachua County Residents with questions about Hurricane Irma are asked to please call the county's Rumor Control line at 311 or 352-264-6557. Click here to visit the Alachua County Emergency Management's website. 

Baker County

Baker County schools will be closed through Tuesday. Baker County offices will be closed Friday and Monday.

Waste collection sites will be closed Sunday and Monday.

Shelters will be opened on Friday at 4 p.m. The general population shelter will be at Macclenny Elementary School, located at One Wild Kitten Dr. in Macclenny. The special needs shelter will be at Ed Fraser Hospital located at 159 N 3rd St. in Macclenny.  

You will need identification to register at the shelter. Please bring any items you may need while staying in the shelter -- blankets, food, water, clothing, etc. -- for at least 3 days.

Emergency Management encourages citizens to sign up for emergency alerts at: www.member.everbridge.net/index/892807736721815#/signup.

For the latest Baker County emergency updates, go to http://www.bakercountyfl.org/.

Bradford County

A countywide curfew was issued Sunday due to flooded roads. The curfew begins at noon Sunday and runs through Monday at 8 p.m. Only emergency vehicles, utility vehicles and personnel working to restore services affected by the storm should be on the roads during the curfew. 

The county opened three emergency shelters at 6 p.m. Saturday for people who need a place to evacuate, and at 7:45 p.m., the county said Stark Elementary School was full for the general population but still has room for people with special needs. The two remaining shelters are:

  • Madison Street Baptist Church, 900 W. Madison Street, Starke
  • First Baptist Church, 163 W. Jefferson Street, Starke

Participants should bring blankets, pillows, snacks for Saturday evening through the rest of the stay, quiet games, books, puzzles and other activities to make the stay more pleasant.

Bradford County school are closed Friday, Monday and Tuesday. School officials said they will make further decisions once the storm passes and they can assess campus safety. 

  • The Varsity Football game scheduled to be a home game against Keystone for Friday night was changed to a Thursday night game in Keystone. The game began at 6 p.m.
  • The JV football game scheduled for Thursday night in Keystone has been canceled.
  • All Bradford Middle and Bradford High cross country and volleyball matches scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday have been canceled. 
     

Click here to view Bradford County Department of Emergency Management's sandbag distribution information. In addition to the locations on the list, sandbags may also be picked up at the Edwards Road Ballfield at 930 Edwards Road, Starke. 

Starke has also implemented a travel curfew from 8 p.m. Sunday until 8 p.m. Monday. Only emergency vehicles, utility vehicles and personnel working to restore services affected by the storm should be on the roads of the city during these 24 hours. The Starke Police Department will be enforcing this curfew as necessary.  It is anticipated that law enforcement, utility crews and related government services will be extremely busy during these hours and unnecessary travel during the storm will exacerbate their workload and possibly endanger the personnel. All residents are encouraged to avoid any non-emergency travel through the city during the prescribed 24 hours.

Columbia County

Hurricane Irma’s path shifted west this afternoon. Irma is expected to be a Category 1 or slightly greater hurricane once it arrives in North Florida. Currently, the eye of the storm is projected to pass to the west of Columbia County Monday. Tropical Storm winds are anticipated to arrive in Columbia County area Sunday Evening between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Maximum forecasted sustained winds of 75 mph with gusts 20 to 30 mph higher are expected at the peak of the storm. The greatest impact will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Rainfall in Columbia County is estimated to be between 6-10+ inches during the storm.

Columbia County residents are urged to stay posted for updates and ensure they are prepared. Click here to visit Columbia County's Emergency Management website. 

All Columbia County residents and evacuees are requested to stay off the road beginning 8:00 p.m. Saturday

  • Volunteers Needed: Volunteers are desperately needed for shelter operations in Columbia County. A simple background check to confirm a non-violent past is all that is needed. Please call 386-719-7530 to register.
  • Shelters: Two shelters are now at capacity in Columbia County: Winfield Community Center and the special needs shelter at Westside Elementary School.  Two new shelters are opening this afternoon to accommodate overflow for evacuees.
    • New Shelters:
    • *Special Needs Only* South Columbia-Ft. White Community Center, 17579 SW State Road 47, Fort White, FL 32038 – Opening at 4:00 p.m.;
    • NOW OPEN Deep Creek Community Center, 11934 N US Highway 441, Lake City, Florida, FL 32055
  • Including the shelters listed above, eight hurricane shelters are active in Columbia County:
    • NOW OPEN Richardson Community Center, 255 NE Coach Anders Ln, Lake City, FL 32055
    • NOW OPEN Ft. White High School, 17828 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038
    • NOW OPEN Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, 646 SE Pennsylvania St, Lake City, FL
    • NOW OPEN Pinemount Elementary School, 324 S W Gabriel Pl, Lake City, FL 32024
  • Columbia County residents that live in low-lying areas or mobile homes are encouraged to take shelter at a higher level solid structure.  Alternate locations recommended are friends and families homes, or one of the hurricane shelters listed above.
  • Schools: Columbia County Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
  • Citizen Information Center (CIC): The Columbia County Citizen Information Center (CIC) opened at 8:00 a.m. Friday, September 8, and remain open 24/7 throughout the weekend and Monday. The hotline number is 386-719-7530.
  • Interstate I-75: The southbound lane of I-75 has NOT transitioned to northbound lanes.  All lanes remain in normal operating directions.
  • Waste Pick-up: The Columbia County Landfill will be closed Monday, September 11, and per Waste Pro there will be no garbage collection on Monday.  Waste collection will be completed one day behind normal schedule. The landfill will be open the following Saturday, September 16.
  • Florida Gateway College: All colleges be closed on Friday September 8th and Monday September 11th due to the circumstances surrounding Hurricane Irma. Florida Gateway College expects to be open on Tuesday, September 12th.
  • Sandbags: Columbia County will distribute sandbags Friday, September 8 – Sunday, September 10, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. each day at three locations. Up to 15 bags per vehicle will be provided, however, citizens will be responsible for filling the bags with sand. Sand and shovels will be provided on site as well.
    • Columbia County Public Works, 607 NW Quinten St, Lake City, FL 32055 (Elderly Assistance at this location only)
    • Columbia County Fairgrounds, 438 FL-247, Lake City, FL 32055
    • Ft. White Community Center, 17579 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038
  • Local Government Agencies: Columbia County Board of County Commission non-essential offices will be closed Monday, September 11.
  • Evacuees: Please be cognizant of evacuees from other parts of Florida. Traffic in Columbia County on interstates, state roads, and local roads has increased substantially. Please use caution and allow plenty of time to travel to your desired location.

Columbia County will provide an update as additional information becomes available.

Union County

The Union County Sheriff's Office said the Emergency Operations Center was at full activation.

Hurricane Irma's eye is predicted to pass to the west of Union County, which is still in danger of strong winds (sustained winds of 75+mph and gusts even higher) and heavy rains.

The shelter at Union County High School (located at 1000 S. Lake Avenue, Lake Butler) is up and running. If you need to seek shelter, officials advise to not wait and do so as soon as possible.

We are looking at the worst part of the hurricane reaching Union County late this evening and throughout Monday into Monday evening, officials said. Everyone should stay off the roads and seek safe locations as soon as possible. Many are already without power in Union County with up to 2 million without power throughout the state. Power crews, emergency responders, Rescue units and law enforcement will not be able to respond during the worst part of the storm.

Union County is not under an “official” curfew, but again for your safety and ours we ask you to stay off the roads throughout the Hurricane weather.

We are also under Tornado watch and warnings and Flood Watch throughout Union County. We can expect more power outages, more flooding of low laying areas and a lot more severe weather throughout tonight and tomorrow. We have received over 3 inches of rain in our area and we can still expect up to 10+ more inches to come.

Click here to visit Columbia County's Emergency Management website.