Hurricane Irma updates
Lake City Reporter will be open Wednesday (posted 6:33 p.m. Tuesday)
Power has been restored to the Lake City Reporter office. The newspaper will resume its normal operating hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) on Wednesday. Subscribers who did not receive their newspaper during the storm or who needs to conduct business with the newspaper are welcome to stop by.
Wednesday's print edition is on the way to press, may be delivered late (posted 5:33 p.m. Tuesday)
The Lake City Reporter, at an off site location because the newspaper office is still without power, has prepared Wednesday's print edition and it is on the way to be printed in Palatka. The newspaper is packed full of post-Irma news, which includes updates on power outages and school schedules.
Some subscribers may receive their newspaper late because of flooded or blocked roads. All subscribers will receive the electronic edition of the newspaper Tuesday night.
The Lake City Reporter office may still be closed to customers on Wednesday because of downtown's power situation. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for more updates.
Lake City Reporter working on Wednesday edition, office still closed (posted 10:38 a.m. Tuesday )
The Lake City Reporter team is preparing Wednesday's edition off site. The newspaper office remains closed since it still does not have power. We will provide more updates this afternoon.
Tuesday's print edition is on the way to press, will be delivered late (posted 6:29 p.m. Monday)
The Lake City Reporter, on battery power, has prepared Tuesday's print edition and it is on the way to be printed in Palatka. Carriers will not deliver the paper until daylight Tuesday. Some routes will not receive their paper because of flooded or blocked roads. All subscribers will receive the electronic edition of the newspaper Monday night.
The Lake City Reporter will be closed to customers on Tuesday since the newspaper office does not have power. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for more updates.
Lake City Reporter preparing Tuesday's edition in the wake of Hurricane Irma (posted 2:15 p.m. Monday)
The Lake City Reporter staff is currently surveying the community, taking photos and writing stories about the damage left by Hurricane Irma after it passed through Columbia County late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
Tuesday's edition of the Lake City Reporter may be delivered very late. We are working to make sure that readers get their papers as quickly as possible while still making sure our carriers and delivery truck driver are safe.
Lake City Waffle House restaurants remain open despite power outages (posted 8:40 a.m. Monday)
Both Waffle House locations in Lake City will remain open today with a limited menu after going into "stage yellow" using its Waffle House Index.
The Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by FEMA to determine the effect of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The index has three levels, based on the extent of operations and service at the restaurant following a storm. "Yellow' means that the restaurant will have a limited menu, due to having no power or only power from a generator, or food supplies may be low. In this case, both Lake City Waffle House locations willl be cooking on gas and only serving sausage and biscuits.
The Waffle House locations are 2963 W US Highway 90 and 3639 W US Highway 90.
For up-to-date information on the storm, follow these links:
- Hurricane Irma's location and path - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at1.shtml?cone#contents
- Lake City's weather forecast - http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=30.183330500000125&lon=-82.63398439999992#.WbRg67J9600
- Current weather watches and warnings - http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=FLZ022&warncounty=FLC...
- Florida Emergency Management's Hurricane Irma website - http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp
- Columbia County Emergency Management's Hurricane Irma blog - http://em.columbiacountyfla.com/Blog/ViewArchive.aspx?month=9&year=2017&pageid=1&mid=2
- Columbia County Emergency Management's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=353463268093780&ref=br_rs
- Columbia County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaCountySheriffsOffice/?ref=br_rs
- Columbia County Fire Rescue's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ccfrlivewire/
- Lake City Police Department's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/LCFlaPD/
Emergency operation contacts
The City of Lake City Emergency Operations Center is open. Residents that are in the city limits can call 386-719-5860 for local Hurricane Irma updates. For Columbia County residents outside the city, call 386-719-7530. For emergencies, dial 911.
Hurricane Irma position update (posted 11:09 p.m. Sunday)
Irma is slightly weaker with 100-mph winds as the barely Category 2 hurricane moves north and continues to climb up the west coast, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It's now bearing down on the Tampa-St. Petersburg region. Tropical storm-force wind gusts are being felt in Columbia County.
The National Hurricane Center says Irma's eye is about 50 miles southeast of Tampa and moving at a fast clip of 14 mph. Still a large hurricane, its tropical storm-force winds extend out 415 miles. Forecasters say they expert Irma's center to stay inland over Florida and then move into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. They also expect Irma to weaken further into a tropical storm over far northern Florida or southern Georgia on Monday as it speeds up its forward motion. The hurricane center says the storm is still life-threatening with dangerous storm surge, wind and heavy rains.
Irma is still projected to pass to the west of Columbia County Monday with the greatest impact taking place between 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. Maximum sustained winds are forecast at 55 to 60 mph with gusts up to 75 mph at the peak of the storm between 8 and 10 a.m.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for Columbia County. For more on the warning, and others in effect, click here.
Hurricane Irma scam alert (posted 10:06 p.m. Sunday)
From Columbia County Fire Rescue - "Warning! Please be cautious of any ads requesting you send information via email. These ads have not been put out by Columbia County in any way. Ads such as this one are popping up and could be a scam. Please use caution.
**IMPORTANT FOR FLORIDA RESIDENTS WHO ARE NOT EVACUATING
If you are riding out the storm, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with RIDEOUT in the subject line - names, address, phone# ages, head count and pets of everyone at that address. They will do a welfare follow-up to confirm if you are ok after the storm. Please share!!"
'Happy to have some accommodations' (posted 9:13 p.m. Sunday)
Richardson Sixth Grade Academy offers secure place for people to eat, sleep during Irma. Read more here.
Hurricane Irma position update (posted 8:32 p.m. Sunday)
Hurricane Irma is still a Category 2 storm, but weakening with 105-mph winds as it moves toward Tampa.
Tropical storm-force winds are now expected to arrive in the south end of Columbia County between 10 and 11 p.m. Hurricane Irma is still projected to pass to the west of Columbia County Monday with the greatest impact taking place between 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. Maximum sustained winds are forecast at 55 to 60 mph with gusts up to 75 mph at the peak of the storm between 8 and 10 a.m.
Hundreds flee to local shelters to ride out Irma (posted 7 p.m. Sunday)
Columbia County has had to open two additional storm shelters after more than 600 people scurried to the first six storm shelters initially opened by the county Saturday afternoon. Read more here.
Irma recovery could require 11M meals, 24,000 tarps and more (posted 6:16 p.m. Sunday)
(Via The Associated Press) - With the arrival of what is potentially one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Florida, officials have set aside 3.2 million liters (0.85 million gallons) of water, filled 67 trailers with meals, and amassed 24,000 tarps. They also have asked the federal government to kick in 11 million meals and millions more liters (gallons) of water, plus nearly 700 cases of baby supplies.
When it is finally safe for emergency officials to fan out across the peninsula, they will find out whether that is enough.
Hurricane Irma position update (posted 5:17 p.m. Sunday)
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is hugging the coast as it moves north.
The National Hurricane Center said Irma's winds were at 110 mph, just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland late Sunday afternoon. It was smacking Naples after coming ashore in Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.
The hurricane center says "although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning."
The center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida's west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon.
Residents in mobile homes, low-lying areas encouraged to take shelter (posted 5:09 p.m. Sunday)
Columbia County residents that live in low-lying areas or mobile homes are encouraged to take shelter at a higher level solid structure. Alternate locations recommended are friends and families homes, or one of the hurricane shelters listed below.
• *SPECIAL NEEDS ONLY SHELTER* - South Columbia-Ft. White Community Center, 17579 SW State Road 47, Fort White, FL 32038
• Deep Creek Community Center, 11934 N US Highway 441, Lake City, Florida, FL 32055
• Richardson Community Center, 255 NE Coach Anders Ln, Lake City, FL 32055
• Ft. White High School, 17828 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038
• Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, 646 SE Pennsylvania St, Lake City, FL
• Pinemount Elementary School, 324 S W Gabriel Pl, Lake City, FL 32024
Traffic advisory (posted 4:54 p.m. Sunday)
There is a serious automobile accident on Branford Highway, just south of CR-252-B. Two vehicles are involved. The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. and the road was still blocked at 4:50 p.m. There is no mandatory curfew locally, however, Columbia County residents and evacuees are requested to limit travel for emergency situations and absolute necessity for safety purposes as Hurricane Irma approaches.
Federal relief aid coming to Florida (posted 4:24 p.m. Sunday)
Today, just hours after Gov. Rick Scott’s request, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration. This declaration authorizes federal funding to flow directly to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma and reimburses local communities and the state government to aid in response and recovery from Hurricane Irma. Read more here.
New shelters open (posted 4:03 p.m. Sunday)
Two new shelters are opening this afternoon to accommodate overflow for evacuees. Eight shelters are now active in Columbia County.
• *SPECIAL NEEDS ONLY SHELTER* - South Columbia-Ft. White Community Center, 17579 SW State Road 47, Fort White, FL 32038
• Deep Creek Community Center, 11934 N US Highway 441, Lake City, Florida, FL 32055
Shelter capacity notice (posted 3:55 p.m Sunday)
Columbia County's special needs shelter at Westside Elementary School is at full capacity. The pet friendly shelter at Winfield Community Center reached full capacity Saturday night. For the latest sheltering information, call the Columbia County Citizen Information Hotline at 386-719-7530.
Sprint expands support for customers in the path of Hurricane Irma (posted 3:40 p.m. Sunday)
Sprint is waiving all text, call and data overage fees for Sprint, BoostMobile and Virgin Mobile customers in Florida through Sept. 15 Read more here.
Governor urges patience during Irma (posted 3:15 p.m. Sunday)
As massive Hurricane Irma battered Florida on a path up the Gulf Coast, Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday advised residents against rushing out once the storm appears to have passed. Read more here.
Last-minute hurricane preparedness tips (posted 2:43 p.m. Sunday)
Here are some tips on what to do in a short time to keep your family, home and neighbors safe before tropical storm-force winds.
- Secure Outdoor Furniture: Loose items in your yard can become flying projectiles during a hurricane due to high winds. Move any unsecured items in your yard – including patio furniture, lawn chairs, bird feeders, hanging plants, and toys – inside your house or garage if possible. If you can’t move outdoor item in, use a strong rope or garden hose to tie them securely down.
- Move Cars to Safety: Cars are often damaged or destroyed by falling trees or windblown debris during a hurricane. If you have a garage, park your cars in it and close the garage door. If not, position cars close to your home on the lee side of expected winds and away from trees to provide some shielding from the storm. Avoid parking cars near power lines or trees.
- Find Utility Cutoffs: Identify the cutoff switches and valves for your water, power, and gas; and know how to turn them off in case of an emergency. Severe damage to your home from a hurricane can cause a short or power surge in your electrical system, and may also result in ruptured water or gas lines. Cutoffs for water and gas are usually located at or near the meter for each utility. To turn off the power to your home, flip the main breaker in your circuit breaker box.
Hurricane Irma position update (posted 2:15 p.m. Sunday)
Hurricane Irma is now a Category 3 storm with 120-mph winds tracking toward Naples, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The most recent hurricane path projection is posted here. For an up-to-date Lake City weather forecast, click here.
Currently, the eye of the storm is projected to pass to the west of Columbia County Monday with the greatest impact taking place between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to local emergency management officials. Tropical storm-force winds are anticipated to arrive in the Columbia County area between 5 and 7 p.m. today. From midnight to 6 a.m. Monday, Columbia County will experience sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph and gusts from 47 to 60 mph. Maximum forecast sustained winds of 60 to 70 mph with gusts up to 80 mph or higher are expected at the peak of the storm. Rainfall in Columbia County is estimated to be between 8-15 inches during the storm.
Catholic schools will remain closed Tuesday (posted 1:45 p.m. Sunday)
Deacon Scott Conway, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of St. Augustine, has decided to keep all Catholic schools closed on Tuesday, Sept. 12, due to Hurricane Irma. Continue to check the diocesan website at www.dosafl.com/hurricane for further updates on when schools will reopen this coming week. The Diocese of St. Augustine owns and operates 36 schools, including high schools, elementary, preschools and early learning centers in the following counties: Alachua; Clay; Columbia; Duval; Flagler; Nassau; and St. Johns.
Columbia County schools and Florida Gateway College will also be closed Tuesday.
Emergency operations centers (posted 12:37 p.m. Sunday)
The City of Lake City Emergency Operations Center is open. Residents that are in the city limits can call 386-719-5860 for local Hurricane Irma updates. For Columbia County residents outside the city, call 386-719-7530.
Tornado watch in effect (posted 12:05 p.m. Sunday)
The National Weather Service office in Jacksonville has placed Columbia County under a tornado watch until midnight. For more on the watch, and others in effect, click here.
Nearly all state parks closed because of Irma (posted 11:50 a.m. Sunday)
The Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service announces the closure of 168 state parks across the state due to imminent weather conditions, including strong winds and rain. Read more here.
Safety advisory from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (posted 10:44 a.m. Sunday)
"Conditions in our area will continually worsen throughout the day. We ask that you stay off the road and remain inside.
Beware travel at your own peril, as first responders will not be able to respond or assist as the hurricane arrives.
Shelters are open and we encourage you to go there immediately if you feel unsafe in your home. Roads will become a great deal more dangerous in the afternoon so please go now or be prepared to ride it out where you are."
River flood warning in effect (posted 10:02 a.m Sunday)
A river flood warning has been issued for Columbia County by the National Weather Service office in Jacksonville. The warning will remain in effect until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13. For more on the warning, and others in effect, click here.
Irma knocking out power across the state (posted 9:40 a.m. Sunday)
Florida utility officials are reporting more than 1 million customers are without power as Hurricane Irm lashes the state. For Florida Power and Light outage maps and restoration estimates, click here. For Clay Electric outage maps and restoration estimates, click here.
Weather warnings in effect (posted 9:30 a.m. Sunday)
The National Weather Service office in Jacksonville has placed all of Columbia County under a hurricane warning and a flood warning has been issued for South Central Columbia County. The potential for damage to property is extensive, according to the service. The peak window for tropical storm-force winds is this evening through Monday evening. Ten to 12 inches of rain is possible in the area. Turn around, don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. For more on the warnings, click here.
County resumes sandbag distribution (posted 8 a.m. Sunday)
Sandbags are being distributed today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They’re available at three locations: Columbia County Public Works (607 NW Quinten St.); Columbia County Fairgrounds (438 FL-247); and Fort White Community Center (17579 FL-47). Assistance is provided for those who are not able to fill or lift their own bags.
Irma begins assault on Florida Keys (posted 7:20 a.m. Sunday)
(Via The Associated Press) - Hurricane Irma began its assault on Florida early Sunday with the storm's northern eyewall reaching the lower Florida Keys as a powerful Category 4 storm.
Irma lashed the area with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph and the National Hurricane Center said it was expected to remain a powerful storm as it moved through the Florida Keys and near the state's west coast.
As of 7 a.m. Sunday, the hurricane was centered about 15 miles south-southeast of Key West and was moving northwest at 8 mph.
New hurricane path uploaded (posted 6 a.m. Sunday)
Hurricane Irma is once again a Category 4 storm and continues to move slowly toward Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The most recent path, which indicates the eye of the storm moving a little more west of Lake City and crossing through Tallahassee Monday as a Category 1 hurricane, is posted here. For an up-to-date Lake City weather forecast, click here.
Emergency preparedness 101 (posted 12:40 a.m. Sunday)
Read the Lake City Reporter's 2017 Natural Hazard's Guide here.
Donations sought (posted 12:02 a.m. Sunday)
Residents that would like to donate resources, such as water, non-perishable food, baby wipes, new blankets/bedding, etc., can call 386-758-1125, ext. 1605 or ext. 1710 to coordinate drop-off and location need.
New hurricane path uploaded (posted 11:01 p.m. Saturday)
Shelter capacity notice (posted 10:35 p.m. Saturday)
Columbia County's pet friendly shelter at Winfield Community Center is at full capacity. For the latest sheltering information, call the Columbia County Citizen Information Hotline at 386-719-7530.
AT&T backing customers during Irma (posted 9:46 p.m. Saturday)
AT&T is automatically issuing credits and waiving additional fees to give unlimited data, talk and texts to AT&T wireless customers and unlimited talk and texts to AT&T PREPAID customers across Florida through at least Sept. 17 because of Hurricane Irma. AT&T said it is also extending payment dates for its prepaid plan with voice and text service through Sept. 17. Go to att.com/hurricaneirma for more details.
See it, shoot it (posted 9:20 p.m. Saturday)
The Lake City Reporter can use your help during Hurricane Irma. Find out more here.
Verizon offering special discounts during Irma (posted 8:50 p.m. Saturday)
Through midnight Monday, Verizon is giving postpaid customers talk, text and data relief with no overage fees while prepaid customers receive an extra 3 GB for data. For more, click here.
New hurricane path uploaded (posted 8:10 p.m. Saturday)
Hurricane Irma's eye appears to be tightening and is moving slower. The National Hurricane Center in Miami has posted its most recent path projection on Hurricane Irma here. For an up-to-date forecast, click here.
FSU/Miami game postponed (updated 8:03 p.m. Saturday)
BREAKING: The Florida State University vs. Miami football game, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, has been rescheduled to Oct. 7 due to Hurricane Irma.
Curfew statement (updated 7:56 p.m. Saturday)
From Columbia County Emergency Management: "There IS NOT A MANDATORY CURFEW in Columbia County, Florida. We request that everyone limit travel on roadways starting at 8:00pm tonight (Saturday). This is to start clearing the roadways in preperation of Hurricane Irma's arrival. This is not mandatory. This is a request."
Lake City Walmart closed until Tuesday (updated 7:37 p.m. Saturday)
For the safety of associates and because of hurricane concerns, the Lake City Walmart is closed until 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Where to watch the storm online (updated 7 p.m. Saturday)
A number of webcams are showing live feeds as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. Please note that livestreams may go down as weather conditions worsen. Here's where you can watch the storm:
— Southernmost Beach Resort Beach & Pier in Key West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNCwj35OwmI
— Southernmost point buoy, Key West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7ld45pUueQ
— Rooftop of Two Friends Restaurant in Key West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGD1byu7gJc
— Cruise ship docks in Key West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUhXfVNW-Jg
— Marathon, Florida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaErEed7UPI
— Sanibel Causeway in Sanibel: http://www.mysanibel.us/traffic/
— Sanibel Island Beach Cam in Sanibel: https://www.earthcam.com/usa/florida/sanibel/?cam=sanibel_hd
— Fort Myers Beach: https://www.earthcam.com/usa/florida/fortmyers/?cam=fort_myers_gullwing
— University of Florida teaching zoo in Gainesville: https://www.earthcam.com/usa/florida/gainesville/?cam=uflorida2
— Siesta Beach in Sarasota: https://www.earthcam.com/usa/florida/sarasota/?cam=siestabeach
— St. Petersburg, Florida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlTKsRZttJE
— Downtown Orlando: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_glxhUUKkyM
Traffic update (posted 6:24 p.m. Saturday)
Power trucks and tree-trimming crews continue to arrive in Lake City from points north. Traffic continues to be congested on U.S. Highway 90 and Branford Highway. Approach these areas with caution.
All shelters now open (posted 6 p.m. Saturday)
Six hurricane shelters are available in Columbia County. Shelter locations are as follows:
- Ft. White High School, 17828 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038
- Pinemount Elementary School, 324 S W Gabriel Pl, Lake City, FL 32024
- Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, 646 SE Pennsylvania St, Lake City, FL 32025
- Richardson Community Center, 255 NE Coach Anders Ln, Lake City, FL 32055
- *SPECIAL NEEDS ONLY SHELTER* - Westside Elementary School, 1956 Co Rd 252B, Lake City, FL 32024
- *Pet Friendly Shelter* - Winfield Community Center, 1324 N W Winfield St, Lake City, FL 32055
Florida Power and Light storm updates (posted 5:30 p.m. Saturday)
Florida Power and Light is mobilized for Hurricane Irma. For updates, click here.
Hurricane Irma rumors (posted 5:15 p.m. Saturday)
Suwannee Valley Electric is NOT shutting power off during the storm. Please disregard rumors and verify storm-related information with the Columbia County Emergency Operations Center by calling 386-719-7530.
New hurricane path uploaded (posted 5 p.m. Saturday)
The National Hurricane Center in Miami has posted its most recent path projection on Hurricane Irma here. Tropical storm-force winds are expected to arrive in Lake City Sunday night. Category 1 Hurricane-force winds are possible Monday. For an up-to-date forecast, click here.
Volunters needed (posted 4:30 p.m. Saturday)
Volunteers are needed for shelter operations in Columbia County. A simple background check to confirm a non-violent past is all that is needed. Call 386-758-1125, ext. 1605 or ext. 1710 to register.
Travel request update (posted 4:15 p.m. Saturday)
Columbia County emergency officials is requesting residents and evacuees to limit travel on roadways starting at 8 p.m. Saturday. "This is to start clearing the roadways in preparation of the storms arrival. This is NOT mandatory, this is a REQUEST," a message from Columbia County Emergency Management stated.
Clay Electric releases statement on Hurricane Irma (posted 3:50 p.m. Saturday)
All Clay Electric district offices will be closed to the public Monday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 12 so personnel can focus on restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. Read more by clicking here.
Storm closure/cancellation update from Florida Gateway College (posted 3:17 p.m. Saturday)
Florida Gateway College is currently closed due to Hurricane Irma. Due to the uncertain circumstances surrounding the storm, Florida Gateway College will remain closed on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The College Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for Sept. 12 has also been canceled and has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 19. Further updates are available at www.fgc.edu/alerts/.
Sunday newspapers will be delivered Saturday (posted 3 p.m. Saturday)
To be ahead of Hurricane Irma, Lake City Reporter carriers will begin delivering the Sunday edition at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Travel request from Columbia County Emergency Management (posted 2:21 p.m. Saturday)
All Columbia County residents and evacuees are requested to stay off the road beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. To sign up for emegency alerts from Columbia County Emergency Management, visit https://member.everbridge.net/index/453003085613883#/login.