Count Tuesday as a win for Fort Myers Beach on its record with environmental forces and otherwise after avoiding major damage reported by Tropical Storm Elsa.
After a rainy day, Tropical Storm Elsa accelerated late Tuesday afternoon in Fort Myers Beach with heavier downpours and winds that reached more than 64 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Several streets and parking lots were flooded, but no major incidents were reported.
Ron Martin, deputy chief of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, said, aside from some fallen trees and “Local floods” no major damage to which the department responded was reported in lower-lying areas.
“It went well,” said Martin. “The community has developed well” Martin said there was “Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing was as bad as it could have been.”
Fort Myers City Beach Manager Roger Hernstadt said the storm had passed “As good as it could have gone.”
The only problem that was reported was at The Mound House, where some water ingress has been reported. Hernstadt said staff are investigating this to determine the cause.
The Mound House was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday but is slated to reopen on Thursday. The Bay Oaks Recreational Campus was open on Wednesday and there was no damage.
The city is in the middle of a major rainwater drainage project, so some streets weathered the rain better than others. Hernstadt said 15 streets are currently lined up to see rainwater drainage improvements as the city works on the multi-million dollar project on a severity level. Around 20 streets were subjected to the rebuilding of the rainwater drainage system.
Tropical Storm Elsa upgraded to a hurricane Tuesday, but it was centered well offshore and the center of the hurricane did not land about five hours north in Taylor County until early Wednesday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Tyler Fleming said Lee County felt the effects of the tropical storm. All of Lee County experienced sustained high winds and large accumulations of rain in the afternoon and after midnight.
In Fort Myers, the National Weather Service recorded up to 7 inches of rain, 6.83 inches in Cape Coral, and 7.4 inches on Sanibel Island.
Gusts of 46 mph were recorded at Tarpon Point in Cape Coral and 42 mph on Sanibel.
The Lee County government issued a statement Wednesday afternoon reporting localized flooding on Captiva Island, Pine Island and the John Morris Road area south of Fort Myers.
“The crews worked to clear the foothills and continued to monitor these and other areas during the flood cycle. The work the crews carried out off Elsa – including clearing road ditches, hollows and drainage canals – appear to have helped mitigate local flooding in many areas where it normally occurs. “ it says in the press release.
The Florida Department of Health is warning residents not to swim or wade in high water. Children who play in floodwater may be exposed to water that is contaminated with fecal matter or other debris. The county encourages residents and visitors to monitor the National Weather Service’s advice on rip currents. There are dangerous floods all over the Gulf Coast, which continue today and Thursday. To better understand the conditions of the tidal wave, visit www.weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent.
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