JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A shifting track of Hurricane Ian largely spared the Jacksonville area from devastating flooding that it endured five years ago with Hurricane Irma.
While that’s good news for Duval County residents, Mayor Lenny Curry said late Thursday afternoon that Jacksonville shouldn’t ease up in precautions just yet. There are still flooding concerns as Ian makes its way across Florida and out into the Atlantic.
“It’s a possibility. It’s a possibility,” Curry said of the flooding potential. “We’ll know more through tonight and tomorrow. I think the key for me right now is to know that there’s still flood risk, there’s still surge risk. So, just be smart.”
The reason for heightened awareness continues as rains and wind still dot the area. Concerns for flooding will remain through the weekend. The storm is expected to pass to the east of the area at roughly 10 p.m. Also, the storm continues to cause power outages in the area. JEA CEO Jay Stowe said that the utility has turned power back on to 111,000 customers as it has gone off and on throughout the storm.
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The expectation is for continued outages through Friday as rains saturate trees and knock down limbs on power lines. Continued flooding is something Curry has stressed is a possibility throughout the coming days.
“The threat for flooding does not end tonight,” Curry said. “For those in flood zones and low-lying areas near the St. Johns River the chance of flooding extends through Sunday.”
Why was it not worse?
National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Boothe said that the area prepared for far worse with Ian than what happened. Memories of the damage caused in September 2017 by Hurricane Irma still linger in the area.
Jacksonville was pounded by severe flooding in that storm, something that the area prepared for this time. Ian differed because the area was hammered by rain before the storm passed through.
“One of the big factors with Irma was when we had 10 to 20 inches of rain on top of the tidal flooding. And we were anticipating something of that magnitude with Ian,” Boothe said.
“With the storm shifting offshore the heaviest rains are going to go with it stay south. So, that factor being taken out, the risk for Irma-type flooding in the St. John’s is much lower than it was yesterday.”
Power is being restored quickly
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Curry said that roughly 10,000 customers remain without power.
Stowe said those power situations will remain and workers will continue to work and restore those.
“Our peak outage was about 21,000 people it’s gotten down as low as 5,000 and moved back up and down. As the mayor said, it’s still saturated ground ... It’s still windy,” Stowe said. “And so we expect to continue to have some outages tomorrow and through the day tonight and through the day tomorrow.”
The city is planning on resuming JTA routes by mid-day Friday. The river ferry will take longer.
Trash collection update
Curry said that trash collection will remain suspended Friday and resume next week. In addition to the current weather conditions, Curry said that the Trail Ridge Landfill was expecting challenging conditions from wind and rain through Friday. Waiting past the weekend will allow the landfill time to dry out, and for waste management services to pick up regular operations Monday when conditions should be back to normal.