Nightly curfew for parts of St. Augustine during Hurricane Dorian

St. Johns County beaches, St. Augustine evacuating ahead of Hurricane Dorian

By Colette DuChanois - Web producer, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer, Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor, Maggie Lorenz - Multi-media journalist

EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit updated story on St. Johns County coastal effects of Dorian

Due to the effects of Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to pass just off the coast Wednesday, St. Johns County ordered a mandatory evacuation order for residents who live Zones A and B, which encompass about 148,500 people.

Those areas include the entire city of St. Augustine, the city of St. Augustine Beach, Ponte Vedra, Crescent Beach and anyone on waterfront property or in flood-prone areas.

Starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday, St. Johns County instituted a curfew for Evacuation Zones A and B in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach. (Scroll down for details)

In addition, the county has ordered evacuations for low-lying areas, including Hastings and Flagler Estates. For evacuation information, including route maps and evacuation zones, visit www.sjcemergencymanagement.org/evacinfo.html.

RESOURCES: St. Johns County's evacuation zones, routes |
Know your flood/evacuation zone

Residents living aboard boats, and those living in RVs, mobile homes and manufactured homes throughout St. Johns County are also included in the evacuation order. Residents who are able to evacuate and are not utilizing a St. Johns County shelter should begin evacuating as soon as possible to minimize traffic congestion.

During an afternoon news conference at 4 p.m. Tuesday, County Administrator Michael Wanchick spoke about deteriorating conditions and emphasized that residents should continue to prepare for the worst case scenario.

"It's important to remember we are still under a Hurricane Warning for all of St. Johns County. This is not the time to get casual or lower our guard as we move forward," Wanchick said. "We're most concerned about the coastal areas and the low-lying areas in the community."

Wanchick reminded everyone that the bridges will remain open in both directions until they are unsafe to cross. Bridges will close if sustained wind speeds reach 40 mph.

"We are optimistic that they will not have to be shut down or closed, but it remains to be seen," Wanchick said.

UNCUT: St. Johns County gives Tuesday briefing ahead of Dorian |
WATCH: St. Augustine Beach already seeing erosion

Curfew for Zones A & B in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach

Starting Tuesday night, a curfew will be in effect for Zones A and B in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly until further notice.

"We in our profession have been given a very important tool, and that tool is called discretion," said St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar. "What I mean by that is, if somebody is out there or has to be out there doing something that we are convinced is in their best interest or in the best interest of the community, we may not enforce the ordinance. If we feel otherwise, we may enforce the ordinance.

"That curfew is there to keep people home or off the streets. Use common sense with it because we know not all situations are the same."

Shoar took a moment to tell residents that now is the time to "ramp up" their situational awareness, reminding everyone to watch for standing water.

"We're out there. We're going to be there if any of our citizens get in trouble, we're going to come to their aid," Shoar said.

Shelters

St. Johns County also opened six shelters on Monday morning. The county is prepared to open additional shelters as needed. The following shelters will be open to the public:

  • Pacetti Bay Middle School, 245 Meadowlark Ln. (Special needs)
  • Timberlin Creek Elementary School, 555 Pine Tree Ln. (Pet-friendly)
  • Southwoods Elementary, 4750 State Road 206. (Pet-friendly)
  • Pedro Menendez High School, 600 State Road 206 West. (General population)
  • Bartram Trail High School, 7399 Longleaf Pine Pkwy. (General population)
  • Osceola Elementary, 1605 Osceola Elementary Rd. (General population)

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, St. Johns County emergency managers reported 258 people had checked in a shelter. 

While shelters provide safety throughout the storm, residents must bring supplies in order to maintain personal comfort and sustenance. St. Johns County recommends that all evacuees bring their own bedding, including sleeping bags or air mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets. A five-day supply of water, nonperishable food, medication, diapers, and other personal items are also suggested. Please refer to the list below for additional supply suggestions:

  • At least a five-day supply of medications, insulin and cooler if you are diabetic.
  • Personal grooming and hygiene items, feminine supplies.
  • Extra clothing, eyeglasses.
  • Books, magazines, cards, games, etc.
  • Pillows, blankets, sheets, lawn chair/chaise lounge.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries, manual can opener.
  • Personal identification/important papers.

Due to potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian and the related evacuation order, the St. Johns County Fairgrounds is now open for RV and boat storage and overnight stays. This service is free for residents and visitors until seven days after the evacuation order has been lifted. Those wishing to utilize the Fairgrounds can check in from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Tuesday, Sept. 3. Space is limited and no reservations will be accepted. Public restrooms and showers will be available for use, however, no RV hookups are available. 

The city’s public parking facility, the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, has reached capacity and will no longer accept vehicles. Regular operations of the facility will resume when it is safe to return and open, following the effects of Hurricane Dorian.

St. Augustine's historic downtown district was almost unrecognizable on what's normally a busy Labor Day weekend. Mary Clukey, who owns the Sports Corner restaurant, spent Sunday afternoon boarding up.

  Tracking Dorian

"The town is dead. It's one of the biggest weekends of tourism of the year. I want everybody to be safe, but it has a financial impact on the whole state," Clukey said. "It used to happen every once in, year apart, now it's like this is the fourth in four years. It's getting tedious and old."

The Emergency Operations Center, which is operating at Level 1 full activation, will be providing Hurricane Dorian updates at www.sjcemergencymanagement.org and www.facebook.com/stjohnseoc. Residents can also find weather updates at www.weather.gov/jax.

As of early Monday evening, St. Johns County was under a Hurricane Warning, Storm Surge Warning, Coastal Flood Warning and High Surf Advisory.

For more information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center Hotline at 904-824-5550. Information can also be found at sjcfl.us

 

School district cancels classes

The St. Johns County School District announced Sunday that schools and district offices would be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Visit www.sjcfl.us for more info.

Flagler College is canceling classes Monday through Wednesday for Hurricane Dorian. Classes will remain on schedule Friday, Aug. 30. However, students who must be absent to make flights or for other travel arrangements will certainly be excused by faculty. Flagler expects to resume classes and normal operations on Thursday, Sept. 5, unless otherwise notified.        

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind has canceled classes and sent students home.  The campus remains open for 11- and 12-month employees. 

St. Johns River State College will be closed through Friday, Sept. 6. This includes all campus locations (Orange Park, Palatka and St. Augustine). SJR State anticipates resuming classes on Monday, Sept. 9. College officials will assess conditions on Saturday and confirm opening with an update at 2 p.m. Saturday. Updates can be found on the College website at www.SJRstate.edu.

Closures, cancellations due to Dorian

With the exception of emergency service employees responding to Hurricane Dorian, all offices and departments of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Property Appraiser’s Office, the Clerk of Courts Office, the Tax Collector’s Office, and the County Courthouse will be closed through Wednesday, Sept. 4. Operational decisions beyond Wednesday will be determined based on weather conditions.

All City of St. Augustine offices will be closed through Sept. 4.

With the exception of emergency service employees responding to Hurricane Dorian, all offices and departments of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Property Appraiser’s Office, the Clerk of Courts Office, the Tax Collector’s Office, and the County Courthouse will be closed through Thursday, Sept. 5. Additionally, the government 
offices of the City of St. Augustine and City of St. Augustine Beach will also be closed. Operational 
decisions beyond Thursday will be determined based on weather conditions.

All vehicular access to St. Johns County beaches will be restricted until conditions improve. 

As St. Augustine and St. Johns County officials continue to monitor Dorian, several meetings have also been canceled:

  • Quality of Nightlife Public Workshop at 3 p.m. Wednesday was canceled.
  • Complete King Street Master Plan Project at 5:30 p.m. Thursday was canceled.
  • As the city of St. Augustine continues to take preemptive action in anticipation of the effects of Hurricane Dorian, the regularly scheduled Planning and Zoning Board meeting on Tuesday has been canceled. All agenda items will be postponed for review at the Tuesday, Oct. 1, meeting, which will take place at 2 p.m.
  • Due to Hurricane Dorian, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting and the special budget meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, has been rescheduled to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 12.
  • The Planning and Zoning Agency regular meeting previously scheduled for Thursday has been canceled. The next Planning and Zoning Agency meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19.
  • The St. Augustine City Commission’s budget public hearing scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 5, is also canceled.

The St. Johns County Courthouse and the Clerk of Courts Office will remain closed through Wednesday. Weather permitting, the Courthouse and Clerk’s Office are anticipated to reopen for standard business hours on Thursday. 

Court closures for the 7th Judicial Circuit have been extended through Thursday, Sept. 5. However, first appearances for Thursday will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Volusia County and as scheduled in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Regular operations are expected to resume on Friday, Sept. 6. The 7th Circuit includes Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties. This closure affects the Richard O. Watson Judicial Center in St. Augustine.

All St. Johns County libraries, bookmobiles and book drops are closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Operational decisions beyond Wednesday will be determined based on weather conditions. Due dates will be extended and fines will not be incurred during the closure.

Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments closed Friday in anticipation of severe weather and potential impacts from Dorian. While the storm track is unpredictable, based on existing information, park officials have decided to err on the side of caution and focus on visitor, volunteer and staff safety by this preemptive closure. For updates, please check park websites at www.nps.gov/casa and www.nps.gov/forma

Anastasia State Park Campground was being evacuated Friday and will be closed until Wednesday. The park was open. 

Matanzas State Forest has closed the following campgrounds: Cedar Creek Campground, Matanzas State Forest Group Camp.

All St. Johns County Parks and Recreation programs are canceled, and all parks and facilities are closed until further notice due to the potential impacts of Hurricane Dorian. Parks and facilities will reopen when safety inspections have been completed and weather conditions allow.

The St. Johns Golf Club is closed until further notice due to the potential impacts of Hurricane Dorian. The course will reopen when safety inspections have been completed and weather conditions allow. 

Due to the mandatory evacuation order that went into effect Monday, the St. Augustine Municipal Marina has closed.  Suspended operations include all fueling, pump out, tender service and dockage. The marina will remain closed until it is safe for marina personnel to return. Do not remain on your vessel as emergency personnel will not make rescues until it is safe for them. If you have an emergency, dial 911. The public restrooms located at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina are closed.

Due to hurricane activity, all Council on Aging offices -- including Sunshine Bus, Paratransit, IMEP, Sunshine Center, Coastal Home Care and all five senior centers -- will be closed through Thursday, Sept. 5.  Depending on conditions after the storm, the  Council on Aging may reopen on Friday, Sept. 6.

Trash pickup

St. Johns County garbage, yard debris and recycling collections will proceed as scheduled through Tuesday. Residents are asked to refrain from placing trash, yard debris or other items along the roadway after that pickup as Wednesday's trash and recycling pickups are canceled. The schedule for the rest of the week will be released when available. 

The city of St. Augustine will pick up trash on a normal schedule through Tuesday. The city of St. Augustine Beach will collect household waste Monday only.

Certain traffic signals being placed in flash mode

Starting at noon Monday, traffic signals at the following locations will be placed on flash mode: 

  • King and Cordova streets
  • King St. at M. L. King Blvd.
  • King St. at Riberia St.
  • Anastasia Blvd. at Matanzas Ave.
  • Cuna St. at Avenida Menendez pedestrian crossing
  • Fort Alley pedestrian crossing

Then, starting on Tuesday morning, traffic signals at three additional intersections will be placed on flash mode:

  • Bridge of Lions at Avenida Menendez
  • San Marco Ave. at Castillo Dr.
  • U.S. 1 at W. Castillo Dr.

Motorists are reminded to treat any intersection where traffic lights are on flash mode or out all together as a four-way stop.

The action is being taken so that electronic equipment operating the lights might be removed thus avoiding damage from flooding and allowing faster restoration following the storm.

Local state of emergency

In preparation for Hurricane Dorian, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday afternoon declared a local state of emergency.

The declaration allows the county to access resources and assistance to prepare for an inclement weather event.

It comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for Florida counties in the storm's path, including St. Johns.

WATCH: St. Johns County declares local state of emergency in preparation for Dorian |
IMAGES: St. Johns County prepares for Dorian

In anticipation of incoming animals due to Hurricane Dorian, the St. Johns County Pet Center is waiving all pet adoptions fees through Sept. 6. The Pet Center is located at 130 N. Stratton Road, St. Augustine, and anticipates to remain open during standard operation hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and Tuesday through Friday.

County providing free sandbags to residents 

St. Johns County is providing free sandbags at six locations throughout the county in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. The sand and the bags will be provided free of charge to residents. Residents must provide their own transportation and shovels, and they will be responsible for filling their own bags. There is a maximum allocation of 20 bags per person.

PREPARING FOR DORIAN: Where to find sandbags

  • Windswept Acres Park -- 5335 SR A1A South
  • Sims Pit -- 536 S. Holmes Blvd.
  • Hastings Community Center -- 6195 S. Main St., behind the building
  • Mills Field -- 1805 Race Track Road, in the overflow parking area
  • Palm Valley -- Under the Palm Valley Bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway
  • North Beach Park -- 3721 Coastal Highway (at the walkover)

The sand and bags will be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily for the duration of the storm, 
or until conditions deteriorate and the operation must cease for the safety of the public and staff. 
For additional information, call 904-824-5550.

Below you'll find an infographic explaining the emergency operation center's activation levels:

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