As anticipated, Lee County Government departmental operations have resumed this morning. County facilities and sites are open with normal hours. Regularly scheduled trash collection and LeeTran services are running on normal schedules.
Lee County Public Safety-Emergency Management staff, county departmental staff and Emergency Operations Center partners continue to monitor and assess any impacts from Hurricane Elsa.
The county encourages residents and visitors to monitor the National Weather Service’s notices about rip currents. Dangerous riptides are present all along the Gulf Coast and will continue to be throughout the day. To better understand riptide conditions, go to www.weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent .
Motorists are urged to drive cautiously until the weather improves and localized flooding subsides both inland and in coastal areas. Turn around rather than drive through standing water.
Residents who want to report road flooding should first check to see if their street is county-maintained and then call 239-533-9400 or visit www.leegov.com/dot/requestforaction.
Lee County Public Safety-Emergency Management today continues to monitor Tropical Storm Elsa and its rainfall as well as potential wind and tidal impacts.
The National Weather Service recently expanded the Tropical Storm Warning for Tropical Storm Elsa to include inland Lee County in addition to coastal Lee County. With weather conditions expected to deteriorate mid-afternoon, Lee County Government will close its offices and facilities at 2 p.m. today. Employees who are not needed for T.S. Elsa operations will be sent home.
LeeTran will continue to operate for those who need transportation. Trash pickup on regularly scheduled routes will continue until it is completed, which is expected to happen mid-afternoon. Lee County Parks & Recreation summer camps will remain open until all children can be picked up.
The county asks motorists to drive with caution today.
Lee County Natural Resources and the Lee County Department of Transportation prepare year-round for excessive rain events, particularly during the traditional hurricane season.
DOT’s maintenance on drainage ditches, for example, has helped prepare the county’s roads for necessary drainage during rainfall events. Expect minor intersection and road flooding. During heavy rainfall, it will take the infrastructure time to drain.
The county asks the public to report blocked ditches, swales, canals and areas of local flooding:
* Second, put in a Request for Action (RFA) to improve surface water drainage along your county-maintained road by contacting the Request for Action Hotline at 239-533-9400 or www.leegov.com/dot/requestforaction.
* People can use the same phone number and website to also report blocked creeks and streams (example: downed trees, collected debris). The reported information will be directed to Lee County Natural Resources.
The county is monitoring low-lying areas, where residents should prepare their homes and yards for potential localized flooding. County crews will be monitoring locations such as the Sanibel Causeway islands and roads on barrier islands, Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach, the Fort Myers neighborhoods of Whiskey Creek and Island Park, as well as Bonita Springs and the Matlacha Pass area. They will also monitor Alva/Buckingham and North Fort Myers.
Lee County Natural Resources reports that the county’s water levels remain average to below average, which is typical for early in the rainy season and should help throughout today’s anticipated weather.
Natural Resource crews will be out monitoring creeks and streams, watching for and – where feasible – mitigating any impediments.
County crews will monitor any potential storm surge that would coincide with today’s high tides. Crews will respond accordingly.
The county will continue to coordinate with its municipal partners as well as with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Lee County Government departmental facilities and operations today are normal. The 20th Circuit is closed. For individuals experiencing homelessness, the Salvation Army Homeless Resource Day Center is open today.
Residents should monitor local meteorologists’ reports, visit www.leegov.com/storm and follow Lee County Government on Facebook.
Given the forecasted wind speeds, no shelters are open at this time. Emergency Management is prepared to open shelters, if necessary. LeeTran is prepared to help with transportation, should sheltering become necessary.
Regarding bridges: Lee County does not literally “close” bridges during tropical storms or hurricanes with barricades, cones, gates or signs because they can easily blow away, becoming ineffective and hazardous. Lee DOT strongly advises motorists to stay off bridges – and the roads leading to them— when sustained winds reach 40 mph (tropical storm force). At those speeds, wind gusts can already be much higher. Winds also become stronger at higher elevations, so dangers increase on higher bridges and elevated roadways.
Motorists may encounter law enforcement officers during today’s event around and near bridges. Follow the directions given.
Lee County Public Safety-Emergency Management today continues to monitor Hurricane Elsa and make plans. The county will make decisions regarding activation levels at the Emergency Operations Center based on the forecast. We anticipate making that decision Saturday morning.
There is no State of Local Emergency declared at this time.
The Special Needs Registry is closed for registration in advance of Hurricane Elsa.
Those on the registry will be notified at an appropriate time in advance of the storm, should sheltering for registered individuals be necessary.
No shelters are open. The list of shelters at www.leeeoc.com is a complete list of potential shelters.
Announcements of any general-population shelters opening – if necessary – will be made via local media, website, social media, etc.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hand-sanitizer and facemasks will be available – if Lee County opens shelters – for individuals who choose to use PPE.
There are no plans for testing. As is always the case, anyone exhibiting influenza-like symptoms would be isolated from others. If a storm approaches and shelters open, Lee County will follow the guidance of its partners, including FDOH and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
There are no plans to ask people to show CDC vaccination cards.
Lee County Emergency Management has many free tools to help residents prepare for hurricanes and other emergency situations including:
The LeePrepares app is a mobile app (available in Google Play and the App Store) that assists individuals and families with preparing for and recovering from all types of disasters that may affect the community.
AlertLee is an emergency notification system that allows registered users to receive telephone, text, and/or email alerts related to natural or man-made emergencies.
The City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department is proud to partner with America’s Boating Club Cape Coral to offer a “Hurricanes and Boats” seminar.
This FREE event will be on Wednesday, May 19 from 6 – 8 p.m. in the Cape Coral Yacht Club Ballroom, located at 5819 Driftwood Parkway. The seminar is open to all boat owners in Lee County and advanced registration is not required.
The “Hurricanes and Boats” seminar, which is part of America’s Boating Club’s new boater education series, will cover things that boaters need to plan for in order to protect their boats before the start of hurricane season.
Topics will include a look at the most important items to consider based on the type of boat and where it is normally kept, as well as what equipment and supplies are needed when a hurricane strikes. Presenters will also discuss having the right insurance coverage and how to receive assistance if one’s boat is kept in a marina.
Members of America’s Boating Club Cape Coral will be on hand to answer questions after the seminar and volunteers will be available to schedule complimentary vessel safety checks to ensure a boat has all the required safety equipment on board.
America’s Boating Club Cape Coral has been an active part of the Cape Coral Community since 1964. They have classrooms where they teach a variety of boating classes including America’s Boating Course. Graduates of the class earn a State of Florida Boater’s Education I.D. Card. In addition, members participate in a variety of social and community service activities, including a life jacket loaner program.
For more information about America’s Boating Club Cape Coral, visit www.ccaps.org.
For more information on the Cape Coral Yacht Club and upcoming Cape Coral Parks and Recreation activities, visit www.CapeParks.com.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in Cape Coral with winds of about 95 miles per hour around 7 a.m.
There are no reports of injuries. At least a dozen homes were damaged (ranging from minor to significant damage) in the area surrounding the 1900 block of NW 26th Avenue.
The Cape Coral Fire Department has checked on residents in the area and the Police Department and other partner agencies are working in this area to assess damage and assisting with traffic issues and downed power lines.