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Monday, Nov 29, 2021

Florida on alert for Elsa, complicating search for landslide victims

Florida on alert for Elsa, complicating search for landslide victims

Twenty-two of the 67 counties into which Florida is divided have been declared in emergency due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa.
The Keys and the west coast of Florida are in an emergency situation due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa, whose rains and electrical equipment already hinder the tasks of rescuers looking for victims of the collapse in Miami-Dade, who, even so, have given in the last hours with four more bodies.

Elsa, which was the first hurricane of 2021 in the Atlantic, may reach that category again before making landfall somewhere on the northern part of Florida's west coast on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned. .

It will not be the first storm to make landfall in the US this year. Claudette hit Alabama in June, where a dozen deaths were recorded in related accidents, and Danny did so in South Carolina without causing significant damage.

Twenty-two of the 67 counties that Florida is divided into have been declared in emergency, but, as Governor Ron DeSantis said, not only the places that are in the cone of trajectory can suffer the consequences of Elsa.

The emergency zone is the Gulf of Mexico riparian, whose warm waters - 84 degrees Fahrenheit (22.8 degrees Celsius) today in Sarasota - act as fuel for cyclones.


In Miami-Dade, which is on the east coast, along the Atlantic, the rains from Elsa's outer bands, accompanied by electrical equipment, have forced rescuers working on the rubble of the Champlain Towers South building, which It was totally demolished last Sunday, July 4.

According to the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, to date there are already 32 confirmed victims of the collapse of the northeast wing of the building that occurred on June 24 and 113 people remain unaccounted for.

Four more bodies were pulled from the rubble since Monday afternoon.

The Florida Keys, the string of islands between mainland Florida and Cuba, will not receive the direct impact of Elsa either, but they are already suffering from her proximity in the form of winds, rain and storm surges.

In Key West, an international tourist destination, public transport is suspended this Monday, public offices and schools closed this Tuesday and there are no services such as garbage collection, according to the Mayor's Office of the city.

The stores remained open.

A neighbor, quoted by a local outlet, said that for the people of the Keys, who have endured hurricanes like the devastating Andrew (1992), this is "just rain."

The Key West airport did not announce the closure to traffic but confirmed several flight cancellations.


The one that will close as of today afternoon is the Tampa airport, a city in central Florida that is within the area placed under hurricane watch by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The area runs from Egmont Key in Tampa Bay to the mouth of the Steinhatchee River on the north west coast.

According to the NHC, at 11 a.m. Miami (4 p.m. GMT) downtown Elsa, which this morning left Cuba behind and passed near the westernmost keys, was about 215 miles (345 km) south of Tampa.

The maximum sustained winds were 60 miles per hour (95 km / h) and reached a distance of 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

The storm is moving at 10 miles per hour (17 km / h) to the north-northwest and will maintain that direction until Wednesday, when it turns north-northeast.

It will make landfall on Wednesday morning and then, weaker, turn northeast and cross Georgia and South Carolina on Thursday in search of an outlet to the Atlantic.

Governor Ron Desantis urged the population this morning to be prepared for the storm and to stay informed about the situation in case there are changes.

Some 250 Florida National Guards (reservists) have been called in to assist in this emergency, he said.

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, who was at a press conference in Surfside this morning, indicated that all necessary emergency measures have been taken and shelters have been set up on the west coast for those who decide to leave their residences while the storm passes.

He also indicated that there are more than 8,000 power company workers on call to quickly undertake the repairs that are necessary in the event that the electricity service is affected.

In addition to the whipping of the wind, the area of ​​Elsa's trajectory can experience a rise in sea level as a result of the combination of storm surge and tide, flooding caused by rains, river overflows and tornadoes.

Núñez said that the soils of the east coast are saturated with water due to the rains that have fallen in recent days and that complicates things.

Fifth tropical storm of 2021 in the Atlantic, Elsa also became the first hurricane this year in the Atlantic basin when it passed through the eastern Caribbean until reaching Cuba on Monday.

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