- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Tropical Storm Elsa swept off Cuba and headed for Florida’s west coast on Tuesday, bringing rains and winds that could complicate the search at the condo collapse site in Surfside.

AccuWeather said the storm had sustained winds of 60 mph as it tracked north for a projected landfall near Tampa early Wednesday.

It weakened a bit over Cuba but could strengthen again in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is adding urgency to the search through the rubble at the condo site in Surfside, near Miami, where more than 100 remain unaccounted for and 32 people have been confirmed dead from the June 24 collapse.

Elsa is set to pass over the opposite coast but forecasters said Surfside could still see heavy rains and localized flooding.

Workers demolished the standing portion of the building before the storm arrived to ensure the safety of their operations.

“We’re now at 100% full strength, full-on pulling everybody out of that rubble pile,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN. “The worst thing that could have happened was to have a storm come in and blow that building down on top of the pile.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday urged residents not to focus on the probable track, or “cone,” of the storm.

“Impacts are expected well outside that area,” Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, said. “Most of the rainfall is going to be east of the center of the storm.”

Mr. DeSantis said Florida will also see a lot of rain in the northern part of the state, where the ground is already saturated.

“You will see flash-flooding conditions in many parts of Florida as this thing moves through,” he said.

The governor told Floridians to heed evacuation orders from local officials and said people should be ready to lose power for multiple days.

He urged people to use power generators safely so that exhaust goes into the open air instead of into the home.

Mr. DeSantis said the generators shouldn’t be used in a garage or under an open window.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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