Tropical Storm Elsa returned to Category 1 hurricane status Tuesday evening with wind speeds climbing over 75 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
The latest National Hurricane Center report (8 p.m. Tuesday) showed the storm just southwest of Tampa Bay moving north at 14 mph.
Gov. Ron DeSantis added to Executive Order 21-152 and expanded the state of emergency to include seven more counties: Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and Union.
With the removal of Franklin County, which is no longer in the projected path, there are now 33 counties under a state of emergency including nearby Alachua, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Suwannee counties.
David Peaton, assistant director of Levy County Emergency Management, issued an 8 p.m. update stating that residents are running out of time to prepare for Elsa.
Peaton said based on his latest communication with state emergency leaders that Hurricane Elsa will most likely make landfall “somewhere in the Cedar Key to Yankeetown area.”
“All of Levy County needs to prepare for high winds, heavy rain, and prolonged power outages,” Peaton reported. “Coastal areas of Levy County need to also prepare for storm surge beginning early Wednesday of up to 6 feet MSL or higher in some areas.”
Those Levy County or area residents who feel unsafe can seek a last resort shelter at two locations:
- Special needs shelter: Bronson Elementary, 400 Ishie Ave, Bronson FL 32621
- General population shelter: Bronson Middle High School, 351 Ishie Ave, Bronson FL 32621
According to Peaton, residents and visitors are encouraged to report any storm related damage through the county’s online portal or through the Levy County Emergency Management app.
Self-service sandbag locations are now open at the following areas:
- Town of Inglis Municipal Building 26 HWY 40 West until 2 p.m. Wednesday. After 2 p.m., go to the Inglis Fire Station
- Yankeetown-Yankeetown Water Plant—until further notice
- Bronson-Bronson Town Hall—until further notice
- Fanning Springs-Fanning Springs Fire Department—until further notice
- Rosewood-Rosewood Baptist Church—until further notice
- Williston-Williston City Utility Building on SW 1st Street, close to the police department
- Cedar Key: corner of F Street and 7th Street—until further notice
- All Levy County government Offices will be closed Wednesday, including the courthouse, but will be open for normal business on Thursday.
- All Levy County schools, including the district office, will be closed Wednesday.
- Cedar Key City Hall and Office of Water and Sewer closing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
- Cedar Key Airport closed at 6 p.m. Tuesday until noon Wednesday.
- Devils Hammock gates will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday.
- Levy County Transit buses will not run on Wednesday.
Storm Surge: Areas along the coast need to prepare for up to 6 feet MSL, or even the possibility of it being a bit higher, starting on Wednesday morning.
Wind: All of Levy County needs to prepare for periods of high wind of 40-60 mph with winds getting stronger as you get closer to the coast. Wind timing can expect to start later tonight into the very early hours of Wednesday. Public information lines will be open all night at 352-486-5155 and 352-486-5576.