Hurricane warning extends north, includes Jacksonville

Evacuations issued for Zones A & B, coastal & low-lying areas, mobile homes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A hurricane warning extended north up Florida's east coast up to the Florida-Georgia border, including the city of Jacksonville and its beaches.

Officials said on Saturday that the city's emergency operations center is fully activated as Hurricane Irma approaches the Florida Keys. 

"This is what we do. We don't want to be here, but we are and we're going to get through it," Mayor Lenny Curry said.

Curry urged people not to look at the path of Hurricane Irma shifting farther west and think Jacksonville is out of danger. He said the community could experience 12 continuous hours of winds of up to 70 or 80 mph. He said that unlike Hurricane Matthew last October, Irma could inflict widespread wind damage and more rainfall.

City leaders announced mandatory evacuations for parts of Jacksonville on Friday and opened more than a dozen shelters for those seeking refuge from Hurricane Irma.

At a news briefing, Curry ordered evacuations beginning Saturday morning for residents of zones A and B, coastal and low-lying areas as well as those living in mobile or manufactured homes. The city says that includes 264,000 residents.

The mayor called for residents to seek shelter at one of those locations or shelter in place by 8 p.m. Saturday, and bring with them any supplies they need.

LISTEN: Mayor Lenny Curry update on Hurricane Irma

The worst weather for Jacksonville was anticipated to arrive Sunday night, Curry said, noting the potential for storm surge and major flooding near rivers and the possibility of tornadoes.

With the city under a state of emergency, the mayor said most municipal services, including trash pickup, would be shut down beginning Monday as all non-essential employees would not be reporting for work. City buses will continue running as scheduled until further notice.

At Naval Station Mayport, personnel are asked to stay off the roads on base. "At sundown tomorrow Sunday, all personnel at Naval Station Mayport are advised to stay off the roads on base unless you are on official business. Stay off the beaches, stay inside, stay safe," said public affairs officer Bill Austin.

JTA "Evacuation buses" are available to transport people to available shelters. Evacuation buses leave from the following locations;

  • Fletcher High School -- 700 Seagate Avenue, Neptune Beach
  • Mayport Middle School -- 2600 Mayport Road, Atlantic Beach
  • Jacksonville Beach Elementary -- 315 South Tenth Street, Jacksonville Beach

All commercial flights at Jacksonville International Airport will cease at 7 p.m. Access to the airport terminal will then close to general public until operations can safely resume. Passengers should contact their airline, not the airport, for rebooking and any other flight status information. 

The St. Johns River Ferry is closed until further notice and the Skyway will close at 9 p.m. Friday and remain closed until further notice.

Click here for more information about specific routes and closures. 

Curry told residents to brace for power outages as weather conditions deteriorate with tropical storm-force winds expected to impact the area. JEA crews were taking steps, including readying hundreds of on-site and mobile generators, to avoid extended outages experienced in the wake of the city's brush with Hurricane Matthew last fall. 

During a phone interview with News4Jax Saturday, Curry said JEA is "much more prepared" for Irma's aftermath than Hurricane Matthew's. 

Those with questions about outages and service issues should contact JEA at (904) 665-6000 or (800) 683-5542.

All commercial flights at the Jacksonville International Airport will cease at 7 p.m. Saturday. Access to the airport terminal will then close to the general public until operations can safely resume. The airport is not a designated evacuation shelter.

Curry met with firefighters Saturday thanking them for what they do every day and what they will continue to do over the next few days to get the community through the storm.

Where to take shelter

The general population can seek shelter at the following locations:

  • Landmark Middle School - 101 Kernan Blvd. N (pets allowed)
  • Twin Lakes Elementary - 8000 Point Meadows Drive (no pets)
  • Chimney Lakes Elementary - 9353 Staples Mill Drive (pets allowed)
  • Mandarin Middle School 5100 Hood Road (pets allowed)
  • Oceanway Elementary - 1255 Gillespie Ave. (no pets)
  • Abess Park Elementary - 12371 Abess Blvd. (no pets)
  • AT CAPACITY - Legends Center - 5130 Soutel Drive (pets allowed)
  • Andrew Robinson - 101 W. 12th Street (no pets)
  • Arlington Middle School 8141 Lone Star Road (no pets)

Those with special needs and accommodations should seek refuge at the following facilities, but plan to bring a caregiver with them:

  • AT CAPACITY - Legends Center - 5130 Soutel Drive (pets allowed)
  • Atlantic Coast High School - 9735 R.G. Skinner Pkwy. (pets allowed)
  • Oceanway Middle School - 142 Oceanway Ave. (no pets)
  • Enterprise Elementary - 8085 Old Middelburg Road (no pets)

Note: Legends Center is a dual population shelter and appears on both lists.

While some shelters may offer food items, citizens are advised to bring snacks to minimize food allergies, limited availability and other issues. Items to consider include:

  • Photo ID and important documents
  • Prescription medication
  • Water
  • Special dietary baby food and diapers
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Folding chair
  • Bedding
  • Hygiene products

For additional information, dial (904) 630-CITY.


About the Authors:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.