JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some homeowners in the Southshore neighborhood are gearing up to prepare for the possible impact of tropical depression 9, which is projected to strengthen and hit Florida as early as Tuesday.
The Southshore neighborhood near San Marco has a reputation for massive flooding. Many residents remember the flooding and extreme wind damage that Hurricane Irma left five years ago -- when people used kayaks as a way to get to their homes.
Because of Irma’s aftermath, the city of Jacksonville with the help of FEMA is trying to purchase the homes in the Southshore neighborhood and turn that area into a natural flood plain. However, not many homeowners have taken advantage of the city’s requests.
Bobby Back, a homeowner in the Southshore neighborhood, said he remembers Irma’s impact and is making changes to not experience the devastation that he did five years ago.
“We’re ready to go,” Back told News4JAX when asked what steps he was taking to prepare for the storm.
Back’s experience with Irma taught him that booking a hotel room could be difficult as a storm moves closer, so he took extra precautions and booked his room early this time. He also said he’s already made evacuation plans, just in case.
News4JAX has heard concerns about the recent surge in development along the St. Johns River and what impact those developments will have on the flooding issues. So, we went around town to check out some of the sites in question.
The bulkhead for the River Edge near the school board building is being rebuilt to hold back flood waters, but the project is not complete.
Across the river, Metro Park’s destroyed docks still stand from Imra’s beating. They were left that way because the city plans on redesigning and redeveloping the park.
Repairs to the docks near Riverfront Park, formerly the Jacksonville Landing site, are still underway.
The USS Orleck has been docked in front of the Hyatt since March. We asked about the plans for the ship if a storm hits Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Naval Museum President Daniel Bean said the “ship should be fine.”
“Our bad weather plan, which has been approved by the Coast Guard, we will just double up our lines. The lines are strong enough right now, but we would just double them up for added insurance,” Bean said.
Memorial Park was another area in Riverside that was hit hard by Irma because an ornamental railing was lost. Park repairs are still underway.
Residents like James Reece believe the city isn’t prepared to take on another storm.
“We are not ready,” Reece said. “They have not planned for it.”
News4JAX reached out to the city officials and the Emergency Operations Center about storm preparations. Officials said they are watching the storm’s developments and talking with state leaders.