St. Johns County officials say Hurricane Ian expected to bring worse flooding, winds than initially anticipated

Water breaches sea wall near downtown St. Augustine as storm approaches

St. Johns County officials said early Wednesday evening that Hurricane Ian is expected to bring worse flooding and winds than initially anticipated, and on Wednesday night, flooding along A1A near the Bridge of Lions started to build up.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Johns County officials said early Wednesday evening that Hurricane Ian is expected to bring worse flooding and winds than initially anticipated, and on Wednesday night, flooding along A1A near the Bridge of Lions started to build up.

Mandatory evacuations were underway for roughly 180,000 people in St. Johns County as Hurricane Ian approaches. People living near water are advised to go to higher ground and leave their homes.

About 180,000 residents in evacuation Zones A and B, as well as Zone F south of County Road 214, were 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.

Hurricane Ian Press Conference - September 27, 2022

Posted by St. Johns County Emergency Management on Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Zone maps can be found on the county website.

MORE: Evacuations underway in St. Johns County ahead of Hurricane Ian

On Wednesday afternoon, St. Augustine was already seeing high waters along its bayfront. A News4JAX viewer sent us a photo that was taken at 11 a.m. near the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument that shows water from the Matanzas River starting to creep over the sea wall near downtown. High tide in the area was at 10:50 a.m. and the next high tide comes at 11:08 p.m.

Water breaches sea wall near downtown St. Augustine. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)
High waters at St. Johns County boat ramp near Tolomato River. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Downtown St. Augustine is one of the most vulnerable areas when strong storms hit Northeast Florida and has seen its share of flooding in recent years.

Other areas of St. Johns County were starting to see the effects of the storm earlier in the day. News4JAX saw a downed power line on A1A in Vilano Beach that briefly shut down lanes.

Patti Schaffer said she’s not planning on evacuating her home in St. Augustine, but plan B is heading to a friend’s house on higher ground.

“We’re prepared. We have you know enough food, water, flashlights, candles,” Schaffer said.

According to St. Johns County Emergency Management, tropical storm force winds are expected from early Wednesday evening until Friday morning. The county also has the potential for three to five-foot storm surges through Saturday morning.

Tidal and inland flooding as well as extremely dangerous rip currents are expected to impact the county’s coastline and areas along the St. Johns River. People are urged to avoid the beaches until Ian passes.

Some St. Augustine storefronts are boarded up and sandbagged as neighborhood roads to the south near Maria Sanchez Lake were mostly clear, with the occasional spot of debris or standing water.

Joe Solcz, who lives on the water in South Ponte Vedra Beach, said he’s planning on evacuating tomorrow.

“I woke up and it was just windy and it started raining and since this morning we’ve already lost 10 feet of dune just from the high tide and the surge,” Solcz said.

As the storm moves in and the sea gets closer, he gets more nervous.

“I don’t like it at all. I didn’t think it would be here already you know and just glad I got a lot done yesterday,” he said. “It’s just going to be a problem of when I can get back to see what happened to everything. That’s going to be like the pit in my stomach.”

County shelters were opened at noon.

The county is prepared to open additional shelters as needed. The following shelters are currently open to the public:

  • Pacetti Bay Middle School, 245 Meadowlark Lane (Special needs)
  • Southwoods Elementary, 4750 State Road 206 (Pet-friendly)
  • Pedro Menendez High School, 600 State Road 206 West (General population)

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