St. Johns County orders evacuations starting Wednesday morning ahead of Hurricane Ian

St. Johns County officials said Tuesday they plan to issue an evacuation order for around 180,000 residents in areas around waterways starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian approaches the state.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County officials said Tuesday they plan to issue an evacuation order for around 180,000 residents in areas around waterways starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian approaches the state.

Residents in evacuation Zones A and B as well as Zone F south of County Road 214 are being asked to leave and get to a safe place on higher ground. The zones being asked to evacuate include all of the City of St. Augustine as well as areas near the coastline and the St. Johns River. Zone maps can be found on the county website or at the bottom of this story.

St. Johns County became the first county to order evacuations, but nearby Flagler County said Tuesday that residents should prepare for the possibility there.

St. Johns County officials said Tuesday they plan to issue an evacuation order for around 180,000 residents in areas around waterways starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian approaches the state.

LATEST UPDATE: Storm Surge Warning issued for St. Johns River as Category 3 Hurricane Ian emerges into southeastern Gulf of Mexico

Those who leave should expect to be away from their homes for 72 hours or more, officials said. Officials told News4JAX the order is mandatory, but no one will be arrested for not following it.

Officials who spoke during a Tuesday afternoon news conference said the evacuations are due to a potentially dangerous mix of conditions due to Hurricane Ian including a 3 to 5-foot storm surge, 10 to 15 inches of rain and an impending Nor’easter.

The conditions are expected to be similar to what St. Johns County residents saw during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

RELATED: ‘It could possibly be a hybrid of Irma’: Duval County to declare state of emergency, close schools

County Administrator Hunter Conrad said three county shelters will open at noon on Wednesday for residents including a special needs shelter at Pacetti Bay Middle School, a pet-friendly shelter at South Woods Elementary School and a general population shelter at Pedro Menendez High School. Recommended shelter supplies are listed on the county’s website at sjcfl.us/hurricane.

Jourdan Spires owns a marine service center in St. Johns County. She’s helping as many boaters as possible as she can to get prepared for free.

“Off of a lift, any boats in wooded neighborhoods we told them to come park here, we have no trees lots of open space and figured we have one of the safest facilities in St. Johns County so we got our community together and we got them here,” said Spires, owner of Marine Service Center.

District schools, county facilities and county offices will be closed from Wednesday through Friday.

Superintendent Tim Forson had a message for many new residents in the fast-growing area.

“We know that this year we probably have a number of families who have not experienced a hurricane. We have many families, many staff members that have moved from other parts of the state and other parts of the country. So when direction is given to you, or advice is given to you, I just ask that you take the time to listen to understand and to follow that direction that’s given to you,” Forson said.

St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said those who evacuate from Anastasia Island should prepare for the possibility they won’t be able to get back to their homes. He said law enforcement has the ability to close bridges at sustained winds of 45 miles per hour or if there’s a concern for the safety of the residents.

Officials urged residents to make a plan to leave early because there could be heavy traffic in the area due to people who are evacuating from other parts of the state.

Davis Shores, prone to flooding, prepares for heavy rainfall

Residents in the Davis Shores neighborhood are getting resourceful as they prepare for Ian.

Residents in the Davis Shores neighborhood are getting resourceful as they prepare for Ian.

We spoke with residents who say their association hired an engineer in 2018 to draw up a plan for a wall to keep floodwaters out of their homes. They say a contractor built the panels and columns.

“With Matthew, we got about three feet of water inside our homes, and Irma was two-and-a-half feet, so after that we were like tired of redoing our entire homes, tired of cleaning and redoing all cabinets and furniture,” said Jeanne Johns, resident of David Shores.

Johns says they have about 200 sandbags near the wall.

The Davis Shores neighborhood is right next to the Bridge of Lions — right along the Matanzas River. Residents say this area usually floods during regular storms.

“Anxious to see if it’s going to work,” Johns said. “We’ve been waiting and waiting because, obviously, if they work we don’t have to put everything up in our houses. Before we were going to take everything with us or put it on counters.”

Johns says they have about 200 sandbags to put along the wall and their homes.


About the Authors:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.

Veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor