77ºF

Minimal damage reported in St. Johns County

St. Johns County schools, government offices closed Friday

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.

Scattered downed trees, power outages and downed power lines were reported Friday morning in St. Johns County in the wake of Tropical Storm Hermine, but the Emergency Operations Center said it had a pretty quiet night overall.

Hermine came on shore as a hurricane along the Gulf Coast about 1:30 a.m. Friday and swept northeast into Georgia.

Power lines were reported down on Coastal Highway and 7th Lane and a tree fell across several lanes of I-95 southbound south of State Road 16 in St. Augustine.

A tree was downed on Racetrack Road, closing the road to traffic for a few hours between I-95 and Bartram Park Boulevard.

Trees were also downed in the Switzerland area, including one with a root system about 5 feet, 8 inches wide. No one was hurt and no property was damaged by that tree.

One homeowner said about four trees were knocked over around 3 a.m. She lives in one of four homes in a wooded area off a dirt road near State Road 13 just south of Greenbriar Road. She said she heard a loud boom during the night, and when the sun came up and she saw the mess, she was shocked.

She said her power was out most of the day but Florida Power & Light crews restored power to her home about 3 p.m. Nearly all power had been restored to the county by 5:30 p.m.

County closures

St. Johns County public schools and The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind are closed Friday, and all sporting events are canceled Friday and Saturday.

Other Friday school closures in the county include:

  • Victory Preparatory School
  • Christ View Daycare and Preschool
  • The Goddard School in Julington Creek

All St. Johns County government offices, city of St. Augustine offices and city of Hastings offices and facilities are closed Friday. The St. Johns County Property Appraiser's Office is also closed.

All courthouses in St. Johns County closed at noon Thursday and will remain closed Friday. The Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine will reopen Tuesday. 

The Health Department, Social Security Office, Probation and Parole Office will be closed Friday. The St. Augustine Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic will also be closed Friday.

The St. Johns County Tax Collector's Office will open at noon.

Garbage, recycling pickup

Garbage, recycling and yard debris collection has been canceled for Friday, except for the city of St. Augustine.

Recycling pickup in St. Augustine will be on its normal schedule and an additional pass for recycling will be made Saturday to pick up storm debris.

All other Friday routes will be collected Saturday.

For additional information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center at 904-824-5550. Anyone with a life-threatening emergency should call 911.

The central location for all local emergency information is St. Johns County Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Operations Center, which can be accessed online at SJCEmergencyManagement.org.

The site also has a link to the most current "situation report," a press release with the most up-to-the-hour information regarding the storm and its effects on St. Augustine and St. Johns County.

More county closures

The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments will be closed all day Friday.  Both parks plan to reopen on Saturday, barring any extensive damage from the storm.

All St. Johns County beaches will be closed to vehicles beginning Thursday and will remain closed throughout the duration of Hermine. Coastal flooding could lead to the closure of certain beach access ramps. 

The Ocean and Fishing Pier will remain closed during tropical storm conditions.

Marine Rescue will continue to issue rip current and high surf advisories as well as flying red flags on all beaches until ocean conditions improve. 

Other closures, cancelations on Friday include:

  • St. Johns County Beach vehicular access gates will be closed Friday. The beach remains open to pedestrians.
  •  St. Augustine Beach Police Department Administrative Offices closed Friday.
  • All libraries are closed.
  • The Southeast Branch Library has canceled the following: Friday -- Mother & Daughter Self Defense Course; Saturday -- Belly Dance Basics
  • Anastasia State Park Campground is closed.
  • The pool at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center is closed. It expected to reopen around 3:30 p.m. Friday, weather permitting.
  • Catholic Charities will be closed Friday. 
  • All St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Fields are closed Friday.
  • Council on Aging facilities (Coastal Community Center, Hastings, River House, The Players, and Trout Creek) will be closed Friday
  • Vilano Beach is closed to vehicular access for the immediate future but remains open to pedestrian traffic.
  • Anastasia Mosquito Control District will be closed Friday.
  • Sunshine Bus and Para-transit Service will be suspended Friday. Para-transit for life-sustaining conditions such as dialysis will resume at noon Friday.
  • The Salvation Army will be closed Friday. 
  • Dining with Dignity downtown will be closed Friday.
  • YMCA branches, including the Ponte Vedra Family YMCA and the St. Augustine Family YMCA, will not open until 1 p.m. Friday. All YMCA before and after-school programs are canceled Friday. For more information, please visit FirstCoastYMCA.org.

Utility companies responding

St. Johns County residents and businesses that experience power outages are asked to call their utility provider to report interruptions and receive updates regarding restoration. Florida Power & Light customers can call 1-800-486-8243. JEA electric and water customers should call 904-665-6000.

St. Johns County Utility Department customers can call 904-209-2700 if they experience water issues or interruptions.

FPL is also housing additional trucks at its Northeast Florida hubs to send out crews for power outages from the storm.

The company said it had 5,000 extra workers coming up from South Florida to the Jacksonville area to respond to power outages and other needs.

Rob Gould, vice president of FPL, said the utility had put about $2 billion in the system in the past few years for new technology that will help the company restore power more quickly.

Gould said about 40 percent of customers are new to FPL compared to 2005, when the last big storm rolled through the state, so many customers have not experienced what a tropical depression could bring.

“When you think about it, we have not had a significant storm or hurricane or the like hit the FPL service territory or any of the territories in Florida in a decade,” Gould said.

Fighting mosquitoes

Epidemiologists and emergency managers are reminding residents to quickly remove any standing water after rainfall.

With the Zika virus already in Florida, scientists said getting rid of potential mosquito breeding grounds will help prevent the spread of the insects. Florida State University epidemiologist Chris Uejio said that even though all mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, those that cause Zika are especially fond of man-made containers.

"The mosquito that has the potential to carry Zika really loves to lay its eggs and breed in that water, so everyone is very concerned about it," said Jesse Crosier of Anastasia Mosquito Control District.

Crosier said her crews have also been applying a treatment to areas of water that can't be tipped over or emptied. She said they use something called BTI, which is a bacteria that is toxic to mosquito larva but is not toxic to pets or things living in those waters, like frogs for example. She said they’ve also been spraying for adult mosquitoes.

For specific requests for mosquito spraying, visit GeoWorldOutdoors.com/Anastasia-uat.