JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville residents begin to clean up in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Elsa, Mayor Lenny Curry said there are lessons to be learned from what happened on Wednesday.
Curry said the city and JEA can do a better job of making sure that canopies and trees are trimmed throughout the year to help prevent tragedies like what happened when a man was killed by a falling tree branch. The branch fell and hit two vehicles in Ortega as the storm moved through North Florida, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Curry also urged people to only drive when it’s necessary.
“There is always going to be the risk of trees falling during a storm but again I would say, as we go through a storm season, and I think we have all done this, we have all been out in weather that maybe we didn’t need to be in, so let’s just maybe think about next time we have a tropical storm or a threat only being out on roads when necessary,” Curry said. “I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s the message.”
He said part of the reason why people may have felt more comfortable being out and about was because Elsa didn’t hit Jacksonville directly and it was a tropical storm, not a hurricane.
“Even though, we have been warning that it is not a direct hit and not a hurricane, you can have tornadoes,” he said. ”You can have flash flooding, etc. As the day wears on, people get fatigued, right? Where’s the rain, where’s the wind? How bad really is this and then later in the day we see what can happen. So the message is, in the future, until the threat is gone, just pay attention and do as little activity outdoors as you need to. And be prepared for the next one. Know your evacuation zone and have your storm kit ready now.”
The mayor also warned residents to stay cautious as clean-up begins across the city, including the San Jose area where a confirmed tornado touched down and damaged multiple homes and businesses.
“Do not get into downed power lines, do not get into standing flooding waters, and be smart. If you are going to work the debris in your yard, know how to work the tools. If you don’t, have someone else do it,” Curry said.
Curry reminded anyone with home damage to take photos for insurance purposes before beginning any clean up.
“What you don’t want to do is when a storm is upon us and public works is out working and cutting down trees is loading up debris on your curb a day before a storm because there just won’t be time to get it picked up and you create an additional hazard,” Curry said.