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Lake City, City Hall: Elsa May Cause Evacuation As Winds Rise

National Hurricane Center storm graphic

LAKE CITY, COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  A 2018 structural assessment of Lake City City Hall lacks any mention of maximum wind forces that the aging building can sustain. However, the City has installed a net around the building to catch falling bricks.

National Hurricane Center
Warnings & Storm Center
Check the NOAA storm graphics for changes.

During a conversation earlier today with Growth Management Director David Young, your reporter asked if a report shows the maximum wind load the building can withstand.

Your reporter pointed out that the 2018 report by Tetra Tech, the City's City Hall, structural assessment consultant, did not mention anything about maximum sustainable wind loads.

About wind, the report says the following:

"The first issue observed is that a 1985 building renovation removed three interior load-bearing walls and replaced them with five new steel girder tines. These interior walls were a significant source of lateral stability for the whole building and the east and west walls individually. The steel framing appears to be adequate to support the required dead and live loads. However, it offers very little lateral strength or stability for the building and walls. Some retrofit anchors were found that tie the west wall back to the second and third floors, but even some of those are not functioning properly due to missing blocking."

The Paragraph continues:

"If the City plans to keep the building for the long term, it is recommended that a detailed structural investigation and analysis be performed for the building to better understand its stability, resistance to hurricane wind forces, and the risks associated the missing interior brick walls."

It is not clear if a “structural investigation and analysis” was performed, as the City decided to build a new city hall.

Mr. Young said he had never seen the report. Your reporter sent him a copy.

Mr. Young added, "I was told by City Manager Helfenberger and former Risk Management Director Steve Roberts that the maximum wind the building could withstand before being evacuated was 45 mph."

Mr. Young did not know if this was in any report. However, he believes he recalled seeing it in an e-mail from the soon-to-be ex-city manager Helfenberger.

Elsa wind arrival
National Hurricane Center

Tonight at 6 PM, the City Council was scheduled to meet.

The meeting coincides with the storm rain and wind, which is headed in this direction and should have arrived by then.

At 9:02 AM the Mayor and Interim City Manager announced the cancelation of this evening’s meeting and rescheduled it for Monday, July 12, at 5 PM.

This new time coincides with the Lake Shore Hospital Authority’s monthly meeting.

At 10 AM this morning, the Columbia County 5 is meeting at Emergency Management Headquarters to declare a state of emergency.

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