Sandbags, shelters, and power generators: Columbia County prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa

COLUMBIA, Fla. — Columbia County is preparing for Tropical Storm Elsa.

Action News Jax spent the day there to see how locals and emergency responders got ready for the storm.

Neville Taylor has been with Public Works for eight years.

Every time a big storm rolls through, you’ll find him by a pile of sand, shovel in hand, filling bags for locals.

”This is nothing new. Everybody going through this every year, so they’re doing what they normally do, getting prepared for it,” Taylor said.

By 3:00 Tuesday afternoon, Public Works told Action News Jax its crews had already given out over 1,000 sandbags.

In other parts of the county, three community centers have become shelters:

Westside Community Center

-431 SW Birley Avenue in Lake City,

Winfield Community Center

-1324 NW Winfield Street in Lake City

Fort White Community Center

-17579 FL-47 in Fort White

Columbia County Emergency Management Director Shayne Morgan says the shelters all have generators.

Joselito Sydiontco bought one for his home Tuesday afternoon.

Originally from the Philippines, he says he’s seen worse but wants to be ready for Elsa just in case.

”I’ve been through the strongest storm back in 2013 in the Philippines so I’m pretty much ready for it now,” Sydiontco said.

Whether it’s sandbags, shelters, or generators, the people of Columbia County know how to hunker down for a big storm.

Taylor says if any good comes from it, it’s that the community comes together.”I went through Andrew. As far as people coming together, I’ve seen it all. So it’s a good thing that we can come out here and help somebody,” Taylor said.

Emergency Management has opened a citizens’ information line that can be called for updates and resources. That number is (386) 719-7530.