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St. Johns County extends local state of emergency

Hurricane debris removal underway on county's 42 miles of coastline

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County will remain under a local state of emergency through at least next Tuesday, Oct. 25, emergency management officials announced Tuesday. 

That status should help people who are trying to repair damage to their homes and businesses.

Once the state of emergency expires, residents have to go through a lot of red tape to get certain things accomplished. For example, those living in Vilano Beach whose homes are teetering on the edge of collapse can now immediately take steps to protect what they own.

No matter where you look in St. Johns County, it's obvious the cleanup is going to take a while. That's why the St. Johns County Commission voted Tuesday to again extend the state of emergency so that county officials and people living here can react immediately.

The county was one of the hardest-hit areas from the storm, suffering billions of dollars in damage.

Residential and commercial properties took a hard hit too. Real estate data from CoreLogic estimated that insured losses could be between $4 billion and $6 billion and are still growing.

St. Johns County begins post-Matthew cleanup of beaches debris

St. Johns County has begun cleaning up the county’s 42 miles of coastline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Debris removal crews began Saturday on Vilano Beach, the worst-hit area, and will move north along the coast to Ponte Vedra Beach, according to the St. Johns County Department of Emergency Management. 

As of Monday, crews had cleared roughly 1.8 miles of the coastline. 

Homeowners are also taking part in the efforts. Trey and Rachel Harrington are cleaning up after making the decision to stay at their Vilano Beach waterfront home during Hurricane Matthew. 

"We were in a kayak, paddling up and down the neighborhood roads, just taking pictures for people worried about their houses," the couple said. 

The Harringtons are now trying to restore their home and get back to a normal life. 

"(There was) flooding in the inside, the ring power came out, got ripped out of the ring, shingles and what not," Trey and Rachel Harrington said. 

Crews will then begin cleaning the south beaches at Summer Haven and proceed north to St. Augustine Beach until all beaches have been cleaned.

Officials expected the cleanup process will likely be slowed down as they work north because access points will be difficult to reach.

Though the efforts are estimated to take several weeks, residents like the Harringtons are appreciative of how quickly crews are working. 

"I went through Hurricane Sandy up north and it's nothing like what they're doing with the power down here, nothing, like, as quick as they're doing down here (with) cleanup. How nice they have been, how quickly the responses -- it's all really good," Trey and Rachel Harrington said.

The county has also called in additional resources to help speed the beach debris cleanup process.

READ: Information on construction and repair permits for St. Johns County

News4Jax was told that some residents have even pulled from piles of debris to help rebuild their homes. Officials ask that residents be careful and watch out for screws and nails.

Property damage reporting for residents

St. Johns County residents and business owners who sustained property damage during Hurricane Matthew are encouraged to call their insurance providers directly with storm-related inquiries.

Property owners can also report damages to the St. Johns County Property Appraiser’s Office at www.sjcpa.us.

Damages do not need to be reported to St. Johns County Emergency Management.

For more information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management Citizen Information Line at 904-824-5550.

Storm debris pickup continues in St. Augustine

With a large number of trucks moving systemically though St. Augustine’s neighborhoods, the city’s contractor, DRC Emergency Services, had collected 302 loads of vegetative storm debris, totaling 12,664 cubic yards, as of Monday. 

This week, the city’s Solid Waste Division resumed all regular collection schedules of household, recyclables and commercial collections.

Wednesday, usually dedicated to yard trash collection, will be used to collect any household garbage that was not collected on Monday or Tuesday so those awaiting pickup should leave the brown container curbside.

Debris resulting from storm damage to commercial properties will be collected by contractors retained by the businesses themselves and not the city. While regular commercial collection of garbage and recyclables has resumed, commercial customers are not permitted to use dumpsters or other containers used for regular trash pickups for construction debris, nor should such debris be placed curbside.