Tropical Storm Eta Passes Through North Central Florida, Leaves Behind Little Damage

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Update, Thursday at 10:10 a.m.: Alachua County Public Schools will reopen on Friday.

Update, Thursday at 9:41 a.m.: There’s still a steady warm breeze and drizzle in Gainesville Thursday morning, but the city’s mayor said the outlook is mostly positive after Tropical Storm Eta passed through the area around dawn.

The National Weather Service in Tampa Bay provided this rendering of Eta’s looping path around the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and different parts of the Florida peninsula.

Update, Thursday at 7:40 a.m.: Levy County Emergency Management reports a storm surge threat remains for Cedar Key and Yankeetown, even if the most severe weather has now passed.

Cedar Key saw wind gusts over 50mph very early Thursday morning, but there were no reports of injuries or property damage across the county.

About 260 Levy County residents are without power, but Duke, Clay and CFEC are working to restore it. The county urges anyone driving this morning to be extra cautious due to the small tree limbs and other debris that remain on roadways.

Update, Thursday at 6:15 a.m.: 

Update, Wednesday at 4:50 p.m.: The University of Florida announced its main campus in Gainesville will be closed on Thursday. Alachua County will be under a tropical storm warning into Thursday, and RTS buses are not operating.

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections has rescheduled its Thursday manual recount of the county’s Growth Management Area amendment for Friday at 9 a.m. Alachua County libraries will also be closed. The county is not planning to open a shelter.

Marion County has postponed its State of the County address that had been scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.

Update, 1:20 p.m.: Voluntary evacuations have been issued for people living in Hernando County coastal zone A and mobile homes. The county is opening a shelter at the Hernando Mining Association Enrichment Center in Brooksville, but Acting Emergency Management Director Erin Thomas encouraged people to stay with family if possible, as capacity is limited due to COVID-19 precautions.

The Hernando County Department of Health has closed for Thursday.

Marion County also canceled Thursday classes, following the same decision in Alachua and Levy earlier in the day. The district said it was doing so “out of an abundance of caution” and “due to predicted high winds that could make it unsafe for buses to be on the roads.”

Gainesville and High Springs city governments also canceled all of their meetings that were scheduled for Thursday. Gainesville also delayed garbage pickup from Thursday to Friday.

Update, 11:45 a.m.: Levy County has opened its public information lines for anyone with questions about Hurricane Eta. The numbers are 352-486-5155 or 352-486-5576.

Update, 11:05 a.m.: Alachua County Public Schools are closed Thursday.

Update, 10:30 a.m.: Citrus County is offering two sandbag filling stations at these locations on Wednesday:

  • Bicentennial Park, 501 N. Baseball Point, Crystal River, FL 34429
  • Homosassa Area Recreational Park Tennis Courts, 4414 South Grandmarch Ave., Homosassa, FL 34446

The county is limiting each vehicle to 15 bags.

Update, 9:15 a.m.: Hernando County is offering a sandbag filling station at Linda Pedersen Park starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The address is 6300 Shoal Line Blvd., Spring Hill, FL 34607.

The county offers these tips on how to properly fill and stack your sandbags:

  • Fill bags one-half to two-thirds of the way full;
  • Over-filled bags will result in a leaky sandbag wall;
  • Stack sandbags so that the seams between the bags are staggered;
  • Tuck the top of each bag under to ensure that that bag is sealed by its own weight.

Update, 9:10 a.m.: Levy County has canceled school and closed all government buildings, county parks, boat ramps and courthouse operations for Thursday.

Storm surge is expected to hit Cedar Key and Yankeetown starting Wednesday night at the high tide cycle and through Thursday.

Update, 9 a.m.:

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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