Huguenot Park opens on schedule

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after hundreds of cars got stuck in the sand of Huguenot Memorial Park and some got swamped by the incoming tide, the park was packed again on Monday.

Access to the park was closed early Sunday afternoon by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office due to large crowds and incoming high tide. Officers directed traffic exiting the park and kept everyone else out, including our news crew responding to reports that hundreds of cars were stuck in the sand and couldn't escape the rising water.


IMAGES: Viewers' photos of rising tide

Jennifer Healy posted several pictures on the Channel 4 Facebook page showing cars clearly submerged.

People we talked to said many of them got out by helping each other push and good Samaritans stepping up. 

"People came running toward us from the front end, saying, please everybody just come and help us! Push these cars out of the way!" Maria Vazquez said.

"I do not know how to swim. Everything that came to my kind, I mean, the worst thing was us getting out of the car, picking up the phone, and just trying to get out. It was bad," Vazquez said.

Beachgoers said they depended on each other to get out.

Photo courtesy of Jenifer Healey
Photo courtesy of Jenifer Healey

"Everybody was really calm and helpful. They were trying to get the smaller cars up higher, up toward the dryer spot. All the SUVs and the bigger trucks were staying behind. We were freaking out, freaking out," said Jenifer Purdy.

The drivers we talked to said it took at least three hours to make it out. They're just thankful this wasn't worse.

"I happened to notice that the tide was coming in a little earlier than what the board at the gate said."

Ginger McKee and her family got out minutes before the chaos.

"I happened to notice that the tide was coming in a little earlier than what the board at the gate," said McKee.

On Monday, park workers alerted beachgoers to the soft sand and incoming tides as they arrived.

"We are going to pay attention," said Conswalo Adams. "They gave us a warning to pay attention."

The park office has a sign showing submerged cars with a reminder at the the top: "Don't be this guy." Some call it a good message.

"Just be aware of your surroundings and watch the water line," said visitor Sheila Plunk.

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