SC Staff Report, photos by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibelians woke up Wednesday to continued rain from Tropical Storm Elsa, which passed west of the island overnight. The City of Sanibel reported 4 inches of rain fell on the island Tuesday night. Roads remained passable with caution Wednesday as there was isolated flooding. Many stretches of the Shared Use Path had standing water or debris.
Elsa wobbled through the Gulf of Mexico, briefly reaching hurricane strength, but moved ashore about 400 miles north of Sanibel as a tropical storm late Wednesday morning. The tailing bands from Elsa passed Sanibel by Wednesday afternoon leaving behind minimal wind and storm surge damage.
The Sanibel Fire & Rescue District has released helpful tips to help citizens prepare for the next storm. “Residents and visitors were lucky we avoided a direct hit from Tropical Storm Elsa,” said Division Chief Tim Barrett. “But this is a reminder that anyone who is not ready for the next storm, now is the time to prepare.”
Prior to the Storm:
• Secure Items: Move items indoors or place in a secure location in the event heavy winds impact the island.
• Hurricane Kit: Make sure you have your own food, water, and other supplies to last for several days. Necessary items for your kit should include water, nonperishable foods, a battery powered radio, flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, prescriptions, and a cellphone with a charger. Proper planning will help individuals avoid panic buying.
• Evacuation Plan: Have a plan in place in the event an evacuation order is issued. Sanibel Island is a barrier island and there is a chance the bridge could be shutdown. Individuals should have a plan to evacuate prior to the closure of the Sanibel Island Causeway Bridge.
During the Storm:
• Monitor local news and social media: Stay informed via local news stations and social media on the most up-to-date closures for the bridge and roadways, evacuations, and the latest news on the approaching storm.
• Stay indoors: During Tropical Storm Elsa, firefighters witnessed individuals in pools or Jacuzzis, as well as sports enthusiasts participating in recreational activities in the Gulf. It is very dangerous to participate in these activities during a storm due to strong winds, heavy rain, and lightning. Individuals are encouraged to stay indoors during a storm.
• Evacuate: Be prepared to evacuate. At a moment’s notice, a storm can shift and cause increased winds, flooding, or storm surge. Have your evacuation plan ready, so that you can initiate it in the event an evacuation order is issued.