Flagler County to issue evacuation orders as Tropical Storm Nicole nears

Shelters to open starting Wednesday

Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord gives update on expected effects of Tropical Storm Nicole in Flagler County. (WJXT)

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler County officials are urging residents to take Tropical Storm Nicole seriously and prepare for its effects.

In a Tuesday briefing at the Emergency Operations Center, officials announced that they will be issuing evacuation orders on Wednesday, Nov. 9, for residents and businesses in Zone A, which covers the barrier island from Flagler Beach to Marineland, as well as mobile homes and RVs countywide and those living in non-elevated homes and low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.

Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said the county is anticipating receiving strong winds, elevated surf and waves, and above-normal tides and rain amounting from 3 to 6 inches.

As of Wednesday, the area is expected to experience the start of winds and waves increasing with tropical storm gusts occurring overnight, primarily along the coastline, according to Lord.

Tropical Storm Nicole 3pm Press Conference

Tropical Storm Nicole 3pm Press Conference

Posted by Flagler County Government on Tuesday, November 8, 2022

“Thursday morning through Thursday afternoon, maybe even Thursday evening, we can expect to see our peak storm surge approach 3 to 5 feet above normal with waves potentially exceeding 15 feet and countywide winds approaching tropical storm force along the coast and the real possibility of hurricane-force gusts as well,” Lord said.

Officials said that previous damage to the sand dunes from Hurricane Ian and other previous storms has already greatly depleted the barrier that protects homes and businesses from the storm surge.

Rough waves Tuesday afternoon beating up against the Flagler Beach pier, which was previously damaged by Hurricane Ian (WXJT)

Officials recommended evacuees stay with friends or family or make arrangements to stay at a hotel.

“If your evacuation plans take you out of the area, we urge that you leave tonight or first thing tomorrow morning,” Lord said.

If you are unable to evacuate, the county is opening Rymfire Elementary School on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 3 p.m. as a shelter.

Residents seeking shelter are encouraged to arrive by 8 p.m. and bring up to five days of medication, any medical supplies or equipment, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets and other necessities like food, clothing and important documents such as identification or medical history.

One Flagler County resident told News4JAX they aren’t evacuating when asked if expected wins from Nicole are significant enough to leave.

“Not about this wind. This is only supposed to be a Category 1. Category 3, we would leave. Category 1, we’re fine,” Norman Decodo said.

The Anchor Restaurant, which is right across the street from the entrance to the beach, is preparing for the storm.

“We might do some sandbags since we’re right here, bring everything inside. Our awning got washed away last time, so we don’t have to worry about that,” said Frankie Cangemi, an employee at the Anchor Restaurant. “So really, we’re just playing it by ear.”

Hurricane Ian also caused a portion of the historic Flagler Beach pier to come apart and drift away. Nicole is expected to cause more of the pier to fall apart.

RELATED: Here’s what we know about school closures for Nicole

The Flagler County Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt also announced that public schools will release early on Wednesday, Nov. 9. to prepare for the tropical storm that is forecast to become Hurricane Nicole.

All schools will start at their regular times.

  • Elementary schools are releasing at 2 p.m.
  • Middle schools are releasing at noon
  • High schools are releasing at 1 p.m.

Flagler Schools will be closed on Thursday, Nov 10.

About the Author:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.