JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City leaders held a news conference Wednesday -- the first day of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season -- to remind Jacksonville residents to make sure they know their evacuation zone and prepare hurricane kits.
“I’m going to say it over and over again: know your zone, prepare your kit,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “It’s been a number of years since we’ve had to do an evacuation. You don’t want to be in a situation where we’re up here saying we’re looking at evacuating or we’re evacuating and you don’t know your zone.”
The mayor also urged residents to review the City of Jacksonville Preparedness and Response Guide at jaxready.com. That’s where additional information about evacuation zones and preparing a hurricane kit can also be found.
“The message here today is don’t be complacent,” Curry said. “It looks like it could be a pretty active year, so this is time to ensure you, your family and your neighbors are ready.
“Local law enforcement first responders, emergency personnel and other leading agencies are committed to ensuring that not only is the city prepared for this season, but that every citizen has the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions and have the resources they need for themselves to keep their families safe.”
Press the play button below to watch the entire news conference.
Jacksonville Undersheriff Pat Ivey also spoke at the news conference, saying the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be ready to respond immediately after the storm.
“If or when we have tropical weather that calls for evacuations, we urge you to follow the orders from the mayor’s office,” Ivey said. “Keep in mind there will be a point during the storm where law enforcement will not be responding to calls for service, and we will be seeking shelter. Immediately following the severity of the storm officers will be back out assessing damages and helping citizens. What this means is if you are asked to leave, please do so. You can rebuild a home and a business, but human life cannot be replaced.”
According to AAA, a survey found that 2 out of 5 people said both high gas prices and the availability of gas would make them more hesitant to leave their homes if there is a major hurricane, and Curry was asked at the news conference about the role high gas prices could play if there were to be evacuations this year.
“Gas prices obviously are an issue this year. They are a major issue that are hurting families. But we work closely with our sheriff’s office, with the Florida Department of Transportation and the governor’s office in the event we have to evacuate,” he said. “We have worked in previous years to mitigate major traffic jams and traffic flows that don’t work, and we’ll continue to do that this year. We’re very careful with timing and how we get people in and out.”
He said that since supply chain and gas price issues are a global reality, it helps to prepare now.
“You should be working on your home right now.” Curry said. “In fact, I had tree limbs removed from my yard yesterday preparing for this season. So this is the time to get it done.”
Curry said that while the city has dealt with staffing issues on things like waste pickup in recent months, the city is ready for an emergency.
One neighborhood in Oceanway was hit hard by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and now the homeowners are worried whether their area is ready if Jacksonville is hit with another bad storm. Five years ago, Irma send a foot of water into Michelle Bollenbach’s Oceanway home.
“Our neighbors woke us up at 3 o’clock in the morning saying get up your streets are flooded,” Bollenbach recounted. “It was all in the garage in the house.”
Now that hurricane season is here again, she’s terrified for another storm, and she also recently learned that her homeowner’s insurance is dropping her in September because her roof is too old.
“Very nervous. I sometimes tell my husband I think I have PTSD -- just water. Period,” Bollenbach said. “I’m very on edge. I’m very nervous.”
These are the stark reminders of this season that brought Curry out with other community leaders to be ready.
“We always hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Curry said.
That means trim trees, get supplies and don’t panic.
As far as trash and yard waste pickup, which has been an ongoing issue all over the city, the city on Wednesday sent the latest numbers to News4JAX.
|Missed garbage||Missed yard waste||Missed recycle|
|Week of May 2||460||346||233|
|Week of May 9||325||326||213|
|Week of May 16||375||272||190|
|Week of May 23||356||264||196|