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Florida visitors undeterred by threat of Elsa

Conditions in Southwest Florida deteriorated throughout Tuesday as Tropical Storm Elsa inched closer and closer.
Visitors along Florida's west coast braved getting close to the Gulf of Mexico, ahead of the Tropical Storm Elsa's impacts.
Sanibel Island, off of Southwest Florida's coast, is known for the wide variety of seashells that can be found on its beaches.
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 15:00:02-04

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — Sanibel Island, Florida is known for the myriad of seashells that wash ashore. People come to Sanibel specifically to look for seashells. It's a uniquely positioned island that catches thousands of shells a day.

“There's definitely a million of them out there, that's for sure,” said Dana Lauth, who was visiting from Ohio with her husband, Paul.

Yet, this is no ordinary day.

“It's really coming in now,” she said, “because there was no white caps and we started an hour ago walking.”

Conditions in southwest Florida deteriorated throughout Tuesday as Tropical Storm Elsa inched closer and closer. However, people who were visiting the area said they’re not letting a storm interrupt their plans.

“We actually booked it a month ago,” Paul Lauth said. “And then as we’ve gotten closer, we found out there's going to be a hurricane, a possible hurricane.”

This is the first tropical storm the couple has ever experienced. When they booked their vacation, they had no idea Elsa would be added to their itinerary.

“Our rental people just told us that if we needed to leave, we could,” Dana Lauth said. “But we’re on the sixth floor and we’re just overlooking the Gulf and Bay, so we’re like, ‘We’re okay.’”

Others decided to get much closer to the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Elsa, by braving the normally placid waters, which were churning with wave action.

But even those visiting from other parts of Florida know when to call it a day when a storm arrives on the doorstep.

“The storms are nothing new to us,” said Kelly Licata, visiting from Florida’s East Coast. “I’m actually staying in Cape Coral, so I’ll go back and make sure the house that I’m renting is secure.”

It’s a safe way to ride out any potential impacts from Elsa, before giving their vacation another go.

Conditions in southwest Florida are expected to slowly improve later in the day on Wednesday. That’s when Elsa will be moving away from the area and give everyone there a chance to assess what happened with the storm.