Home / Collier County prepares for Elsa’s possible impacts

Collier County prepares for Elsa’s possible impacts

Published: Updated:

It’s always best to be prepared, and that’s exactly what’s going on in Southwest Florida ahead of possible impacts from Hurricane Elsa.

From shelters to evacuation plans, Collier County wasn’t taking any chances Friday.

As everyone in the state gets a better idea about Elsa’s ultimate path, emergency management ensures it’s prepared for anything.

“At this point, this is really difficult,” said Dan Summers, the director of Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services. “We’re seeing a fast-moving storm; we don’t know what that storm’s ultimate timing will be; of the peninsula, Florida, is in the cone.

Summers and his team are watching the hurricane’s track closely, hoping for the total miss but preparing for a direct hit. If that proves to be the case, Collier County might have to order an evacuation.

That would mean Joseph Schilling, who is visiting the region from Maryland this holiday weekend, might have to leave early.

“Just do a lot of praying and think, you know, we’re not from here, so we don’t know about the evacuation zones and all of that stuff, and no one’s really said anything,” Schilling said.

Collier County has six evacuation zones. The A zone is along the coast, B and C zones a little bit inland, followed by the larger D, E and F zones.

Summers told us it’s critical everyone knows their evacuation zone, and it’s critical the county clear its drains and swales.

“We have our road maintenance division crews getting prepared as always,” said Connie Deane, the community liaison for the Collier County growth management department. “They do on an annual basis the cleaning of the swells, making sure everything is under control.”

If you’re in a low-lying part of the county and you need to get out, there will be a safe place for you to go.

“Right now, we have five shelters on standby,” Summers said. “We have supplies and equipment at five. If it becomes necessary and again we think that’s more than enough in this particular situation.”

The county has not announced where those five shelters will bet yet, but they assured us they will be ready. Reminder: For those residents living in low-lying areas, Collier County dos not provide sandbags. So it’s recommended to buy items such as bags of mulch or soil to protect homes against possible storm surge.

Community members on Marco Island prepare

Teddy Naftal Jr. is a charter boat captain at Marco Island Backwater Fishing, and he isn’t worried about the possibility of Elsa making waves early next week.

“The way they’re talking, I don’t think it’s going to be too bad,” Naftal said.

Naftal isn’t worried because he knows how to prepare for a hurricane, since he makes his living on the water.

“You should never let your guard down,” Naftal said. “If you got a boat and water, make sure it gets secured, tied off in several different ways, or mine, I’ll probably pull it out on trailer and take it home.”

Cindy Leclaire at the Snook Inn restaurant makes her living on dry land, but she knows how important it is to get ready for any approaching storm.

“The old snook inn has been through so many that we’re just used to being able to batten down the hatches get things where they need to be,” Leclaire said.

Leclair told us her staff is ready for anything from a full-blown hurricane to a crush of customers.

“We just go with the flow,” Leclaire said. “We can be prepared at a moment’s notice, or be open also in a moment.”

Duke Pfitzinger told us this is his family’s first storm after moving her from Kansas, and they’re taking no chances.

“Batteries, water, canned goods,” Pfitzinger said. “We redid the drainage in the house.”

One thing everyone we spoke to on Marco Island agrees upon was the importance to stay informed and stay ready because it’s better to over prepare than not prepare at all.

“The nice thing again, with hurricanes, you can get prepared, so you get again as much prepared as you can and then hope for the best and get prepared for the worst,” said.