COLLIER CO., Fla. — Preparations continue across Southwest Florida as Tropical Storm Elsa makes it’s way further north.
It almost seems like business as usual in Naples as a number of beach goers could be seen going about their business, even taking a dip in the water. But those with the City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department are cautioning the community to remain vigilant.
The main message authorities want to get across is be prepared. They remain optimistic Elsa won’t be too devastating of a storm but say, if an evacuation is necessary, to just be ready.
“Right now I’m enjoying very nice weather and we’ll see what happens tomorrow," said Gene Lamento, a resident of Naples.
That seems to be the resounding answer from those we spoke with throughout Collier County. As Tropical Storm Elsa sets her sights on the coast, Southwest Floridians are getting ready in different ways.
“We are excited about that," says John and Wanda Trachok, who are visiting from Southern Indiana. "We’re looking forward to it. It’s like if we had to pay extra, we probably would’ve!”
On Monday, the Naples Pier was bustling with both locals and tourists. It may seem like those are unfazed by Elsa’s expected arrival, but preparations are being made.
“We’ve bought some food to keep in the condo that we’re in and so we’ll hunker down if we have to hunker down," said the Trachoks. "But it’s been there a long time so we figure it’ll last another week.”
“I’ve taken precautions at the house but I don’t feel like we’ve had any serious warnings that we have to leave the house to go anywhere," said Lamento.
Meanwhile, the City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department cautions the community to remain vigilant.
“What we’re expecting is a full day, maybe a full day and a half, of tough storms, brisk winds and some gusty winds maybe in the 40 mph area," said Pete DiMaria, Fire Chief of the City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department. "But we’re hopeful that this is not going to be a major weather event, at least this time.”
The department is not recommending anyone seek shelter at this time, however, they say to make sure you know where to go.
“They’re set up for a lot of people and at the end of the pandemic we always want people to use caution if that’s one of their options," says DiMaria. "We are not recommending people leave the area for this storm. We think it’s perfectly reasonable to stay in your home for Elsa at it comes by off our coast.”
They’re also advising the public to have at least 72-hours worth of food, water, and battery-operated equipment. It's also important to have an evacuation plan in case you need to get out. DiMaria says if evacuation is recommended, they strongly suggest people to get out of those areas and listen to emergency management.
“Don’t try to ride out a storm if you don’t have to," DiMaria said. "Again, Elsa is a smaller storm and we’re not as concerned as a major weather event with this. But it’s certainly not going to be the last time we’re looking at hurricanes, either, in this season or in the future seasons.”
Chief DiMaria says residents can also stay up to date on current conditions with their Naples Fire Rescue app.