ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County is warning its residents and visitors to stay out of the ocean starting Saturday. The county said its beaches are forecast to experience unusually high surf and tides, dangerous currents, and strong winds along the coastline due to a nor’easter.
Starting Saturday and into next week, the county is urging people to use extreme caution while at the beach and to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. A spokesman for St. Johns County Fire Rescue said because it is not technically beach season, beachgoers will not see tower lifeguards. But they will be doing roving patrols.
Signs posted at the foot of the beach are there to remind you that a red flag warning means business.
“You can see the current and everything,” beachgoers Tommy Boynton said. “I don’t even go in there myself.”
The county said some pedestrian access points may be affected, tidal flooding could lead to restricting on-beach driving, and there could be threats of coastal flooding and erosion.
Boynton said these are all good reminders to not take chances.
“Mother Nature will do whatever it wants to do, whether you want to be here or not,” Boynton said.
Vehicles are already restricted from Vilano Beach because of an ongoing renourishment project to extend the beach and rebuild the dunes. Once the project is complete, the county said, it will help protect property and the coastline during future storms.
'This is nature we’re dealing with, so there’s all different scenarios with winds and tides and this isn’t a 100% guarantee of no damage, but it definitely adds a substantial level of protection," St. Johns County Coastal Manager Damon Douglas said.
A few miles away, the Porpoise Point access will be monitored this week for more erosion and coastal flooding, officials said. They will be doing a study to address erosion in the area.
“Every time we come down, and we come down monthly, we can just see the difference of the erosion within just a month,” David Carroll said. “I mean, we were here a month ago, and it’s the first time we’ve been on the beach and that pond behind these houses is four times bigger than when we left a month ago.”
David and Sharon Carroll have lived in Porpoise Point for more than a decade and said they worry about flooding and erosion.
“Oh totally, it’s just going to wash everything out,” Sharon Caroll said. “It looks like the waters already come across here and back there. I mean there’s just a hole at the end of the street here. It’s definitely going to flood this road. I mean this is crazy.”
Sharon said they’re preparing for potential nor’easter conditions this weekend like they would for a hurricane.
People living along Porpoise Point are no stranger to these conditions. Last year, the county built a barrier after similar conditions washed away part of the road.
Beau Baker grew up at Porpoise Point and said the coastline has changed.
“There’s been a lot of development as far as housing and commercial businesses that have been put up,” Baker said. “Over the years, the various storms that we’ve had have impacted the coastline here and the erosion on the beach and the sand dunes.”
The county is recommending people keep an eye on beach access updates through its mobile app, Reach the Beaches. Apple and Android users can download it by searching for “St. Johns County Beaches” through Google Play or the app store. The county said it is updated daily. For more information, click here.
You can also follow St. Johns County Beaches on Facebook or Twitter (@SJCBeaches). For more information, call 904-209-0331.