Tropical storm Elsa kills 1 in Florida, injures 10 in Georgia

A weakened but resilient tropical storm Elsa on Wednesday killed at least one person in Florida and injured several more when a possible tornado hit a campground at a Navy base in southeast Georgia.

The National Hurricane Center said Elsa still had winds of 45 mph (72 km / h) more than six hours after making landfall along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. The center of the storm was near Valdosta, Ga., At 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Elsa appeared to spare Florida significant damage even though it still threatened to flood the rains and caused several tornado warnings. The coasts of Georgia and South Carolina were under tropical storm warning. Forecasters predicted Elsa will remain a tropical storm until Friday and issued a tropical storm watch from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida said one person was killed on Wednesday when a tree fell and hit two cars. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 50 mph (80 km / h) in the city. The tree fell during heavy rains, said Captain Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville Fire Department. He said no one else was hurt.

In neighboring Camden County, Georgia, a possible tornado hit an RV fleet at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Around ten people were injured and transported to hospitals by ambulance, base spokesman Scott Bassett said. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. He said some buildings at the base appeared to have been damaged as well.

Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he rushed to the scene fearing that friends staying in the park might be injured. The area was under tornado warning Wednesday evening.

“There were only RVs overturned on their side, vans overturned, a few trailers had been moved and a few trailers were in the water” of a pond at the site, Rodriguez said in an interview telephone.

A cellphone video he filmed at the scene showed low hunched trees amidst scattered debris. He said ambulances had arrived and started treating dazed people trying to figure out what had happened.

“A bunch of people got lacerations and just got hit,” Rodriguez said. “The majority of people were in their trailers when it happened.”

Earlier today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told a press conference that no major structural damage was reported when Elsa came ashore.

“Obviously it could have been worse,” the Republican governor said, although he warned that many storm-related deaths occur after the system has passed.

The hurricane center said parts of Florida could see up to eight inches of total rain accumulation from the storm. There was also a risk of flooding in Georgia and South Carolina, which were expected to receive 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain. Tornado watches were in effect over parts of northern Florida and southeastern Georgia until Wednesday evening.

Valdosta, Ga., And surrounding County Lowndes received a flash flood warning as central Elsa passed nearby. Some roads and construction sites were inundated, and near Moody Air Force Base a wind gust of 66 km / h was reported, county spokeswoman Meghan Barwick said.

Scattered power outages were reported along Elsa Road on Wednesday evening, with about 35,000 homes and businesses on either side of the Georgia-Florida state line without power, according to the website. power

The storm made it difficult to find survivors and potential victims in a Miami-area condominium collapse on June 24. Anyway, the crews continued the search in the rubble of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on the state’s southeast coast.

The storm also temporarily halted Wednesday’s demolition of the remainder of an overturned cargo ship off the coast of Georgia. The South Korean freighter Golden Ray capsized in September 2019 off St. Simons Island, about 110 kilometers south of Savannah. Crews have removed more than half of the ship since November.

Most of the rescuers were sheltering indoors on Wednesday, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, spokesperson for the multi-agency command overseeing the demolition.

Himes said crews would monitor whether Elsa’s winds would disperse the ship’s debris into surrounding waters. The remains of the ship are open at both ends, like a giant tube on the side, and its cargo decks still contain hundreds of crushed and mutilated cars.

At Hillbilly Fish Camp and RV Park in the town of Waycross, southern Georgia, Margie Freitag crouched on Wednesday after hauling boats out of the water and picking up loose items before the storm. Freitag said she had plenty of supplies after stocking up for the coronavirus pandemic.

In Edisto Beach, SC, Wednesday started out heavy and overcast.

“The kind of day where you can just feel the weather wanting to move in,” said Mayor Jane Darby.

The forecast for the Barrier Island 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the Charleston coast was similar to a severe summer thunderstorm – an inch or two (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rain, gusting winds up to ‘at around 40 mph (64 km / h) maybe a bit of beach erosion. Other South Carolina beaches expected similar conditions, mostly coming overnight to be less of a nuisance to visitors during an extremely busy summer.

“Businesses are grappling with a labor shortage much more than they will be bothered by this storm,” Darby said. “This is where the stress is now.”

Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard said 13 people were saved from a boat who had left Cuba with 22 people on board Monday evening. Nine people are still missing. Elsa was also blamed for three dead in the Caribbean before reaching Florida.

Elsa is the first storm with the fifth name on record, said Brian McNoldy, hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

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