The Phoenix Flyer

T.S. Elsa knocks out power to thousands while headed toward landfall in Big Bend

By: - July 7, 2021 10:04 am

Credit: National Hurricane Center

Tropical Storm Elsa had knocked out power to 26,000 customers in Florida as of early Wednesday morning, mostly in the Tampa Bay Area, and was headed toward a landfall in Taylor County later in the day, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced.

More than 10,000 restoration workers were ready to respond as soon as weather conditions allow, the governor said during a news conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center.

Additionally, the state has mustered 50 National Guard troops plus heavy equipment, generators, and supplies of food and water, he said.

“There have not been reports of really significant structural damage anywhere in Florida, fortunately, at this point,” DeSantis said.

“We have had no reports of fatalities,” he added. No medical facilities had lost power.

The governor warned Floridians not to attempt to drive through flooded roads, to avoid downed power lines, to take care when clearing debris, and not to use generators inside their homes or garages or near open windows, lest they suffer carbon monoxide poisoning.

“I ask Floridians to simply be safe and use common sense,” he said.

“We, obviously, have a very dynamic state; there’s been a lot of people that have moved in here since we had Irma, and I just hope that, if this is your first rodeo, please heed the warnings about handling power outages and handling some of the issues with your yard and with your debris. Because that’s the last thing we want to see is any type of injuries or fatalities for that.”

As of 8 a.m., the National Hurricane Center placed the storm center 35 miles west of Cedar Key and moving north at 14 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour.

Storm surge warnings were in effect for Longboat Key to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay. A hurricane warning was in place from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River. Tropical storm warnings extended from that area south to Longboat key and north to the Ocklochonee River.

“On the forecasted track, it will make landfall near Steinhatchee in the next few hours. Tornadoes remain possible across Northeast Florida into this afternoon,” DeSantis said.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, urged people to document any damage to homes or infrastructure, both to streamline any insurance claims and to allow the state to seek financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The best way to capture this damage is via photographs. This includes taking pictures of debris, high-water lines, and property damage,” Guthrie said.

He asked people sharing pictures via social media to tag his division via @flsert on Facebook and @flsert on Twitter.

DeSantis noted that no further tropical activity seems likely over the next few weeks, but that this is still early in the hurricane season, which typically sees more activity in August, September, and October.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.