Counties west of Jacksonville prepare for winter storm

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - Counties in Florida west of Jacksonville are preparing for the cold weather and winter storm that could reach them Wednesday.

Officials in Columbia, Baker and Suwannee counties say the last time the roads iced over was in 1989, but there is concern that could happen. They're worried a light drizzle could turn to ice, which could mean problems.

At the Florida Department of Transportation's district office, all hands are on deck and everyone says they will be ready for whatever this round of winter storms brings.

"We are prepared for it, we are prepared to put sand in the icy areas, to enable vehicles to have better traction," FDOT engineer Aaron Trippensee said.

He said trucks loaded with sand are on standby, and they'll go over parts of the roads that may ice.

FDOT is also putting out electronic signs on Interstates 10 and 75, especially near bridges and overpasses to warn drivers that they'd be the first to form dangerous ice.

Those who work at the Lake City animal shelter are also gearing up for the winter weather, doing everything they can to make sure that their dogs and cats are both safe and comfortable.

"Time to make sure our gas tanks are full, we have plenty of gas, heat in the kennels, which is a good heat source," said Terry Marques, executive director of the Humane Society. "Thankfully, volunteers throughout the year have donated the bedding and blankets. So we've doubled up on that."

The Humane Society is bringing all its dogs and cats inside and is already running space heaters. It's expensive for the nonprofit, but its something it needs to be done.

Animal Control workers will also be on call in case someone sees a pet in distress or a dog or cat in danger from being out in the cold.

"I guess it was a few years ago now when we actually did pull some dead puppies out of a frozen water area," Marques said.

He said a lot of people in the area keep their animals outside, but that's something they just can't do over the next few days.

"Bring them in tonight and tomorrow night," Marques said.

The Humane Society is accepting donations, such as heaters and blankets. If you want to help out, call 386-752-3191 or go to Also call if you see a dog or cat that's out in the elements and needs help.

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