Jacksonville-area beaches reopen, but public urged to keep off dunes, stay out of ocean

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Friday afternoon that Duval County’s beaches are reopening after Ian passed through the area. But while much of Jacksonville was spared by Ian, the storm did do a number on Duval County’s shoreline. Beachgoers are also asked to stay off the fragile dunes, and Curry warned people to stay out of the water, as there is a strong rip current risk, along with a high surf advisory.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Friday afternoon that Duval County’s beaches are reopening after Ian passed through the area.

But while much of Jacksonville was spared by Ian, the storm did do a number on Duval County’s shoreline. Beachgoers are also asked to stay off the fragile dunes, and Curry warned people to stay out of the water, as there is a strong rip current risk, along with a high surf advisory.

As of Friday afternoon, a coastal flood warning was in effect for Duval County. According to the National Weather Service, the coastal flood warning means that there will be minor to moderate flooding continuing through the next high tide cycles through the weekend, but that’s going to gradually go down from Friday.

At a news conference on the city’s response to Ian, Curry also said that crews finished inspecting the Jacksonville Beach Pier and that it will reopen to the public at 7 a.m. Saturday.

WATCH: Press the play button directly below to watch Friday’s news conference on the city’s response to Ian.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and other city leaders held a news conference Friday afternoon to provide the latest information on the city’s response to Ian.

Erosion occurred as a result of the high surf. Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman said there was a lot of storm surge activity due to Ian, but “the dunes did their job.” Hoffman did say that the dunes are very fragile right now.

“We need to really take care to let them recover. Everybody needs to stay off the dunes, and they need to stay away from the dunes,” Hoffman said. “They’re fragile on top, and then where the escarpments, which are the cliffs that were formed from the storm surge, they can be about 5 to 10 feet high. So they may look fun to play around and in and under, but those are going to be very dangerous areas, so please stay completely away from the top or even around the dunes. We lost about 25% of our dune system, so it’s going to take some time to recover. So we need everyone’s help in doing that.”

The dunes now look like a cliff — and could easily topple.

“What I am really impressed by is that this dune held up,” Katsikas said. “We got a 6- to 8-foot ledge here. I think it’s spectacular. I think it’s neat. It looks like a canyon.”

Along the beach, many people were surprised at what they saw with so much of the dune system washed away.

“Even though we lost a quarter of them, they are still all doing their jobs and there’s still a lot of dune out there,” said Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser.

For the Howell family, the dunes are important. They’re holding back the stormwater from their 100-year-old beachfront home. Those living here are keeping an eye on the dunes and say that people — particularly now — need to keep off them.

“Don’t be climbing on them, absolutely. We are sort of the dune monitors. Stay off the dunes,” Elizabeth Howell said. “But look, they did their job.”

Besides the fact that disrupting or destroying the dunes is illegal, it’s also dangerous. The Neptune Beach Police Department posted a warning on social media Friday morning asking parents not to allow children to play near dunes because they could collapse in the wake of Ian.

“They want to take their children down there. They said not to stand on the edge because it’s kind of a sheer drop-off, and it could collapse with their weight,” said Betsy Lindsay, who lives at the beach.

After Hurricane Irma, the dunes were renourished — built back up. A similar project will happen later.

Public works said there are always ongoing renourishment efforts, but it’s going to ask the Army Corps of Engineers to move up the timetable because of the damage from Ian.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Friday afternoon that Duval County’s beaches are reopening after Ian passed through the area. But while much of Jacksonville was spared by Ian, the storm did do a number on Duval County’s shoreline. Beachgoers are also asked to stay off the fragile dunes, and Curry warned people to stay out of the water, as there is a strong rip current risk, along with a high surf advisory.

Elsewhere in Duval County, Curry said, the four shelters in Jacksonville will be closing on Friday to allow Duval County Public Schools to clean and prepare the facilities to reopen to students and staff on Monday morning. DCPS said Friday that it was assessing its 155 school campuses to determine if they can safely reopen and later confirmed classes and school activities will resume Monday.

City offices will reopen to the public and nonessential employees at 8 a.m. Monday.

And, Curry said, garbage, recycling and yard waste pickup will return to normal Monday morning. There are no makeup days this weekend for those who lost their trash pickup days.


About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.