STORM UPDATE 07/01/2012 7:30 PM

Columbia County Emergency Management officials moved into an extensive mosquito spraying initiative on Sunday evening between the hours of 6:00 – 11:00 p.m. with the areas of Lake Jeffrey, Rolling Oaks, CR 133, CR 245, CR 240, Three Rivers Estates, SR 47, Fairway Estates, Five Points, CR 25A and Lake City Country Club being the primary target zones. In addition to spraying for adult mosquitoes, crews began putting briquettes in standing water to assist in killing mosquito larvae. Spraying will continue daily from 6:00 – 11:00 p.m. in various areas of the county each night.

Meanwhile, preliminary assessment teams from FEMA, the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) and Small Business Administration worked with Public Works Department, Damage Assessment Teams and county officials to determine the extent damage inflicted on homes, businesses and infrastructure because of the extensive flooding. Representatives of Federal and State agencies arrived in Columbia County on Friday and is expected to finish the preliminary estimates on Monday. Officials are hopeful that in the upcoming days that FEMA and the President will make a Federal Disaster Declaration for the State of Florida, including Columbia County and other counties affected by Tropical Storm Debby. The Federal Declaration, if made, will open the door to a wide array of programs intended to financially assist both public and private interests. Local officials are hopeful the county will receive a declaration sometime in the next few days.

The Santa Fe River is believed to have crested Saturday at Fort White with a level of 32.24 feet and was measured at 31.9 feet Sunday morning. Flood stage is 24 feet. At Three Rivers Estates the river measured 23.18 feet Sunday morning and is expected to crest on July 5 at 23.8 feet. Flood stage is 19 feet. The river is predicted to return within its banks around July 15 at Fort White and much later in the month at Three Rivers Estates. At White Springs, the Suwannee River continued its gradual reduction in flood waters reading 83 feet Sunday morning. It crested on June 28 at 85.23 feet and is expected to drop below flood stage of 77 feet on Friday, July 6.

The Columbia County Citizen’s Information Center (CIC) remains open around the clock to allow residents to get answers or report new road outages, etc. The CIC can be reached at 719-7530. Richardson Middle School is also still open as a shelter, it is located one block south of Baya Avenue on Pennsylvania Street.

Weather forecasts continue to warn of temperatures near or over 100 degrees during the first part of the week with the heat index nearing 110 degrees. Residents are urged to remember to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. In addition, afternoon thunderstorms, some of which could be severe, are possible over the next few days.