Alachua County avoids Hurricane Ian’s worst

Tree crews off Newberry Road on NW 94th Street removed a tree that fell on a power line on Thursday morning.
Tree crews off Newberry Road on NW 94th Street removed a tree that fell on a power line on Thursday morning. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

As helicopters land on barrier islands and 800 search and rescue personnel continue efforts in South and Central Florida, Alachua County escaped severe damage and received far lower rainfall than expected from Hurricane Ian.  

While county and city of Gainesville offices remain closed Thursday and Friday, emergency preparation will begin dissolving. Alachua County Fire Rescue will send personnel and assets to assist elsewhere and Gainesville Fire Rescue will also send help to Charlotte County.  

All four Alachua County emergency shelters are deactivating, and its 311 Critical Information Line will end at 5 p.m. Thursday, according to a press release. The area remains under a Tropical Storm Watch because of sustained winds and gusts ranging from 45 to 55 miles per hour that could last through Friday morning.  

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However, the local flood watch has already ended. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service warned that the area could experience “extensive and potentially extreme flash flooding and river flooding.” On Wednesday evening, the estimate was between six and eight inches of rain, but officials said the area will now get around an inch.  

A tree fell in the Bellamy Forge neighborhood off 43rd Street in Gainesville.
Photo by C.J. Gish A tree fell in the Bellamy Forge neighborhood off 43rd Street in Gainesville.

Hurricane Ian continued moving eastward and south of Alachua County, gradually reducing the storm’s local impact.  

Local power outages did hit the area, with reports in Newberry, Alachua and Gainesville. Out-of-state utility and tree workers began arriving Tuesday to help restore power. Crews came from Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Kentucky. 

Opening announcements have already come for most services: 

  • Regional Transit System will reopen for limited bus service on Friday. 
  • Trash collection for Gainesville and Alachua County will run Thursday’s routes on Friday. Normal collection will resume Monday.  
  • Depot Park will open Friday at noon, but Gainesville announced all other city parks will remain closed.  
  • UF announced it will resume operations on Saturday as Santa Fe College continues to close through the weekend.  
  • The Alachua County Health Department will hold clinic hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with walk-ins available.  
  • GRACE Marketplace is open for emergency services and meals. It will continue its storm shelter for Thursday night.  
Tree limbs down on 34th Street at the intersection of 39th Avenue in Gainesville.
Photo by C.J. Gish Tree limbs down on 34th Street at the intersection of 39th Avenue in Gainesville.

The city of Newberry announced it has ended emergency operations and will open for regular operations and office hours on Friday.  

High Springs garbage collection was rescheduled from Friday to Saturday. City offices and parks will remain closed until Monday.  

Across the state, more than 2.5 million Floridians have been without power, mostly in seven southwest counties, and 42,000 linemen have responded. 

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has stockpiled 3.5 million meals and 1.8 million gallons of water near impacted areas. FDEM also reports processing or finishing more than 1,300 requests for resources out of 1,500 received so far.  

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