ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Mandatory evacuations were underway Wednesday for roughly 180,000 people in St. Johns County as Hurricane Ian threatens the state. People living near water are advised to go to higher ground and leave their homes.
Effective at 6 a.m. Wednesday, evacuation orders were in effect for residents in Zones A and B, as well as Zone F south of County Road 214. Residents in the zones are 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.
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.
“There’s gonna come a time where we can no longer get to you and that is just not feasible,” St. Johns County Sheriff Hardwick said. “We want to make sure you are safe and protected and you’re in a safe place with your families.”
Hardwick said they will shut down the bridges if there are any public safety concerns, but they want to keep the bridges open as long as they can to get as many people off of the barrier islands.
Officials said road closures are expected due to possible flooding.
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.
County Administrator Hunter Conrad said three county shelters opened at noon Wednesday for residents:
- Pacetti Bay Middle School at 245 Meadowlark Lane (Special needs)
- Southwoods Elementary at 4750 State Road 206 (Pet-friendly)
- Pedro Menendez High School at 600 State Road 206 West (General population)
The county said it is prepared to open additional shelters as needed.
While shelters provide safety throughout the storm, residents must bring supplies to maintain personal comfort and sustenance. St. Johns County recommends that all evacuees bring their own bedding, including sleeping bags or air mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets. A five-day supply of water, nonperishable food, medication, diapers and other personal items are also suggested. Please refer to the list below for additional supply suggestions:
- At least a five-day supply of medications, insulin and a cooler if you are diabetic
- Personal grooming and hygiene items, feminine supplies
- Extra clothing and eyeglasses
- Books, magazines, cards, games, etc.
- Pillows, blankets, sheets, lawn chair/chaise lounge
- Flashlight and extra batteries, manual can opener
- Personal identification/important papers
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Shelters opening in Northeast Florida due to evacuations
For more information, residents can call the St. Johns County Emergency Operation Center at 904-824-5550.