Floridians from coast to coast preparing for Tropical Storm Eta

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. — Channel 9 has a team of reporters spread from the west coast of the state where Tropical Storm Eta is set to make landfall through to the east coast where the storm is set to exit the state later Thursday.

Reporter Shannon Butler is in Crystal River where residents are working on last minute preparations for a storm they didn’t know was coming until they said it was almost too late to board up.

READ: Eta live updates: Tropical storm conditions, tornado risk expected in Central Florida overnight

Boaters in the area were pulling their boats out of the water Wednesday afternoon fearing the water will rise high enough to flood nearby parking lots. Few homes are boarded up, and residents said that’s because they didn’t have enough notice.

Eta is expected to make landfall in the area either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as a tropical storm.

Farther inland in Lake County, reporter Jeff Levkulich said locals are monitoring the St. John’s River, which is already under a flood warning.

READ: Storm safety: What to do when a tornado warning is issued in your area

In Sumter County, Emergency Management Director David Castro said they are more concerned about the possibility of tornadoes spawning from Eta as it moves inland.

Castro said that they do not plan to open shelters or evacuate residents at this time, but Sumter County schools will be closed Thursday.

He said there will be a skeleton crew to monitor the storm at the emergency operations center. They are asking residents to closely monitor the weather reports as the storm moves closer overnight.

READ: Tropical Storm versus Category 1 Hurricane: What’s the difference?

In Marion County, schools will also be closed, and they also are not opening shelters or offering sandbags.

On the east coast of the state, reporter Mike Springer said beach officials are flying red flags due to rough surf and rip currents. And they said those conditions are expected to stick around as Eta inches closer.

Staff removed trash cans and port-o-potties from the beaches this week due to the weather and said they don’t expect putting them back out until Eta passes.

READ: 9-point checklist of things to do for your family’s hurricane plan

Officials said they may shut down beach driving on Thursday, but that depends on the conditions.

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for live updates on Eta from across the state.