St. Johns County begins recovery efforts, again

All bridges open; thousands still without power

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - More than a dozen neighborhoods from all corners of St. Johns County remain flooded one day after Hurricane Irma ravaged Northeast Florida. Those include Davis Shores, Vilano Beach and Matanzas that suffered the most damage from Hurricane Matthew just 11 months ago.

All bridges in the county reopened Tuesday, but some roads remain impassable due to the floodwaters. Thousands of people are still without power after Hurricane Irma tore through the county.  

During re-entry, everyone is asked to be cautious of standing water hazards and debris obstructions. Re-entry tags are no longer required. For updates on the official reentry process, visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904-824-5550.

All evacuation and curfews that were in effect have been canceled.

International Golf Parkway between US Highway 1 and Interstate 95 is closed due to flooding and debris
Roscoe Boulevard is also closed due to flooding.

Road and bridge crews are working throughout the county to clear debris from roadways. Please use caution when traveling along roadways.

Water and sewer services may not be immediately available and power may not be restored in many areas. 

St. Johns County will resume standard operations on Thursday. All administration offices, libraries, pet centers and recreational facilities will be open for standard business hours. Administration offices for the city of St. Augustine will open based on the restoration of electrical services.

All St. Johns County beaches, including the St. Augustine Pier, will be closed until further notice. 

Republic Services and Advanced Disposal have suspended all household waste and recycling collection services in preparation for Hurricane Irma. In addition, yard debris collection services will be suspended through Friday.

County officials are asking residents to conserve water and reduce toilet flushing. 

FEMA has issued an Individual Assistance Declaration for St. Johns County in response to damage incurred due to Hurricane Irma. To apply for individual assistance, please visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.

For more information regarding the impacts of Hurricane Irma, please visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904-824-5550.

The first Hurricane Irma-related death happened Monday as the storm tore through the county, causing record flooding and vast power outages.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said an elderly couple in the Palm Valley area were trapped by high water, and one suffered what is believed to be a heart attack.

Shoar said Irma brought a “worst-case scenario” in the county. He added that there is damage all over, saying, “No one was spared.”

County manager Michel Wanchick said the damage is as bad, if not worse, than what the county experienced with Hurricane Matthew.

Eye on the Storm header

Officials announced on Monday that St. Johns County public schools will be closed through Wednesday. A final decision will not be made until Wednesday at noon and will be communicated shortly following.  

All administrative offices in St. Johns County and the city of St. Augustine will be closed through until Monday.

Shoar said he witnessed heroic efforts by first responders Sunday night, including in St. Augustine South, where they were chest-deep in water making rescues.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue's urban search and rescue teams found numerous homes throughout the county that was damaged by high winds, fallen trees and flood waters.

Home damage is particularly serious along South Ponte Vedra Boulevard, where at least one home has collapsed into the ocean and numerous others are undermined. Assessment teams will be checking all parts of the county for damage and marking homes that are structurally damaged.

In addition to floodwaters, large downed trees are blocking travel across dozens of roads countywide, forcing first responders to find alternate ways to access some 911 callers. 

In St. Augustine, Hurricane Irma tossed sailboats into the sea wall -- another into the Santa Maria Restaurant.
A fourth -- a 36-foot motor yacht -- sunk in the Manatazas. News4Jax was told all 10 boats at the marina were damaged, along with the docks.

Shoar urges residents to be patient while power is restored. He said deputies will maintain a maximum presence for as long as they can.

Shelters

In response to impacts from Hurricane Irma, St. Johns County has opened the Solomon Calhoun Community Center at 1300 Duval Street, as a post-impact shelter for those who are unable to return to their homes.

All other shelters are now closed.

For more information, please visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904-824-5550.

St. Johns County parks, beaches, pier remain closed

St. Johns County Parks and Recreation facilities will remain closed through Friday, September 15, to allow staff time to assess damage and clear any hazards. Similarly, all St. Johns County Beaches are closed to recreational activities until further notice, and all public beach walkovers and the St. Johns County Pier will remain closed until staff can assess their structural stability. Officials are also urging residents to avoid boat ramps and other waterway access points until they have been deemed safe. For more information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904-824-5550 or visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane.

Hotlines open

In response to Hurricane Irma, the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center has opened a hotline for residents to call regarding county services, storm response and events.

People are asked to call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904-824-5550 for non-emergency storm-related information. The hotline will be available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you have a life-threatening emergency should call 911. For additional Hurricane Irma-related information, visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane.

St. Johns County has activated a hotline for residents and business owners with concerns regarding property and structural damage due to Hurricane Irma. If you have storm-related structural damage or permitting questions, please call the St. Johns County Building Services Structural Hotline at 904-827-6836.

Anyone with questions or concerns can call St. Johns County Emergency Management at 904-824-5550.

Not again

Davis Shores, just across from the Bridge of Lions from downtown St. Augustine, was hit by a storm surge similar to that of Hurricane Mathew last October.

A lot of tree limbs and other debris line the streets off A1A as people begin cleaning up again. For some residents, what they went through last year helped prepare so they wouldn't lose everything in this storm.

John Lloyd rode out the storm watching the water rise before dawn Monday. 

"We prepared differently," Lloyd said. "Water went through our house, but none of our belongings essentially got wet because we had them all up on blocks."

He measured 5 inches inside his home, slightly less than last year. 

"It could have been so much worse," Lloyd said. "You know, it's inconvenience, but it's Florida."

The owner of Cap's on the Water in Vilano Beach also said the water didn't rise near as high as last October, but it was enough to force him to spend Tuesday getting sand out of his restaurant and dry things out.

Bernard Deraad also benefited from lessons learned from Hurricane Matthew. He said this year he food up to higher shelves in the fridge and freezer in case the water came in high again. He also filled trash cans and wheelbarrows with ice in case they lost power.

"What we did also was rented two trucks and got all of our equipment away from here to higher ground. So we didn't have any damage to our equipment, thank God," Deraad said.

Deraad said he hopes to reopen Thursday evening with a limited menu and have a full menu by Friday night.

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