Columbia County declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Ian

Storm damage reported along SR 47 in Columbia County

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – The Columbia County Board of County Commissioners declared a state of emergency for the county effective at 9 a.m. Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian is anticipated to make landfall late Wednesday into early Thursday morning in the Southwest Florida area.

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Columbia County is not under any storm watches or warnings at this time. Forecasts predict Columbia County will receive 6 inches-8 inches of rain and sustained tropical storm force winds with possible gusts of hurricane force winds beginning late Wednesday evening into Thursday morning with the probability of sustained winds for a 24-hour period.

The Citizens Information Center (CIC) will open at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and will remain open 24/7 throughout the duration of the storm. The hotline number is 386-719-7530.

Shelters

Columbia County will open two general population and one hybrid emergency shelter locations Wednesday at 6 p.m. to function as a host shelter and assist emergency evacuation efforts. The emergency shelter locations provide shelter and restroom facilities for individuals seeking refuge from Hurricane Ian. The hybrid shelter location will have special needs capabilities. Please note Columbia County emergency shelters are not open to pets or animals. FIREARMS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN PUBLIC SHELTERS.

Due to limited space at emergency shelters, we encourage individuals seeking shelter to first contact family and friends that have a safe and secure building structure, and request to stay as a guest during or after the storm.

Additionally, hotels in Columbia County have limited availability, and it is recommended that individuals contact hotels directly for reservations prior to arrival to confirm rooms are available.

Emergency Shelter Locations:

  • Winfield Community Center: 1324 NW Winfield St. Lake City, Fl. 32055
  • Pinemount Elementary School **Hybrid Location**: 324 SW Gabriel Place Lake City, FL 32024
  • Fort White High School: 17828 SW State Road 47 Fort White, Fl. 32038

For more information regarding emergency shelters please contact the Citizens Information Center (CIC) at 386.719.7530.

Closures, changes

Columbia County Board of County Commission offices and staff will transition to emergency activation roles Wednesday. Normal business operations will resume Monday. Please contact the CIC at 386-719-7530 with any questions.

Waste pickup service will run normal operations until noon Wednesday and will resume normal operating hours when storm conditions have ceased.

Columbia County Libraries will be closed Thursday through the weekend and reopen Monday.

Columbia County parks will close Wednesday and reopen Monday.

County-owned retentionn ponds have been pumped to lower water levels and help ease potential flooding impacts.

Columbia County Schools will host school through Virtual Instruction on Wednesday from home as school facilities will be closed. School operations will be completely closed Thursday and Friday. Normal school operations will resume Monday.

Belmont Charter School will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

Sandbags

Columbia County will distribute sandbags beginning Tuesday, September 27, 2022, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily at three locations until storm conditions are no longer safe:

  • Columbia County Public Works, 607 NW Quinten St, Lake City, FL 32055
  • Southside Sports Complex, 1963 SW Bascom Norris Dr, Lake City, FL 32025
  • Ft. White Community Center, 17579 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038

There is a fifteen (15) sandbag limit per vehicle. Residents are responsible for filling sandbags; however, elderly, and special needs assistance will be available.


About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.