County by county: Shelters opening in Northeast Florida as Nicole prompts evacuations

This GOES-East GoeColor satellite image taken at 2:36 p.m. EST and provided by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Nicole approaching toward the northwestern Bahamas and Florida’s Atlantic coastline on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (NOAA via AP) (NOAA via AP)

Some Northeast Florida counties are beginning to make decisions about evacuations and the opening of shelters ahead of the effects of Nicole.

Here’s a look at the counties opening shelters so far:

St. Johns County

In anticipation of the effects from Nicole, voluntary evacuations will be in effect starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, for coastal areas of St. Johns County, county officials announced.

That includes the entire city of St. Augustine and the city of St. Augustine Beach, as well as St. Johns County residents who live in flood-prone areas, on waterfront property, in mobile homes and in RVs.

St. Johns County will open two shelters starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9. The county is prepared to open additional shelters as needed. The following shelters will be open to the public:

  • Health and Human Services Department (Special medical needs) at 200 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine
  • Solomon Calhoun Community Center (General population and pet-friendly) at 1300 Duval Street in St. Augustine

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. 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

Clay County

Residents in Zone A in Clay County were strongly encouraged to evacuate Wednesday, Nov. 9, ahead of any impacts or potential flooding from Nicole.

The county released the following shelter information:

  • Lake Asbury Jr. High (for special needs population) opens at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9.
  • Orange Park High School and Keystone Heights Jr./ Sr. High will open at 6 p.m.Wednesday, Nov. 9.

These two shelters are pet friendly.

Service animals are allowed in shelters if they show proof of vaccinations and they are on a leash.

Clay County Emergency Management, with the help of the Florida Department of Health in Clay County, maintains a registry of individuals within the county who have special medical needs. This includes individuals who may require daily skilled nursing care, assistance with daily living, or have life-sustaining or saving medical equipment, which requires electricity.

Duval County

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said “we do not expect evacuations,” but the city is still making shelters available. Curry said two shelters will open at 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10:

  • The Legends Center at 5130 Soutel Drive (Open for general population, special needs and pet-friendly)
  • Landmark Middle School at 101 Kernan Blvd. (Open for general population and pet-friendly)

Nassau County

Nassau County announced at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, that voluntary evacuations have been ordered for Zones A and D in the county.

A shelter was opened at the Callahan multi-use facility 543350 US Highway 1 in Callahan. The shelter is for both general population and those with special needs. Residents should bring their ID, insurance card, emergency contacts and primary care provider information. Transportation can be provided by contacting the Emergency Operations call center at 904-548-0900.

Zone A includes Amelia Island’s beaches and low areas, and Zone D includes Nassauville, Blackrock, Pirates Wood and Chester.

Putnam County

Due to Nicole, Putnam County is recommending evacuations for Zone F, which includes Sportsmans Harbor, Dunns Creek, Federal Point and other locations that experienced flooding during Hurricane Ian, according to Putnam County Department of Emergency Services’ Emergency Management Division.

According to county emergency management officials, the following shelters will be open for the community beginning Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m.:

  • Ochwilla Elementary School at 299 State Road 21 in Hawthorne (This is the county’s pet-friendly shelter.)
  • Kelley Smith Elementary School at 141 Kelly Smith School Road in Palatka (This is the special needs shelter. Residents must be registered with the Putnam County Department of Health. To apply for registration, residents can visit
  • Browning-Pearce Elementary School at 100 Marvick St. in San Mateo
  • Middleton-Burney Elementary School at 1020 Huntington Road in Crescent City

Flagler County

Flagler County announced that evacuation orders are effective at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, for residents and visitors in Zone A, the barrier island from Flagler Beach to Marineland, as well as mobile homes and RVs countywide, because of Nicole.

“We urge those who are going to stay with relatives, friends or at hotels to complete their evacuation by noon,” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord. “This will clear that traffic by the time the evacuation order is effective. It will open at 3:30 p.m.”

The shelter location is Rymfire Elementary, located at 1425 Rymfire Drive in Palm Coast, for general population, special needs and evacuees with pets.

Residents utilizing shelters are encouraged to arrive by 8 p.m. and to bring their own bedding. Single/twin size inflatable mattresses are preferred due to the space limitations.

All evacuees using the shelter should bring:

  • Five-day supply of all medications
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Sleeping bags, pillows and blankets
  • Extra chargers and batteries for electronics
  • Headphones for music devices
  • Snacks and “comfort foods” – meals will be served
  • Important documents including identification, medical history, and insurance
  • No weapons allowed
  • No illegal narcotics allowed
  • No alcohol allowed

Residents with pets:

  • Animals must be crated
  • Animals must have current vaccination records and supplies, including medications
  • “Pets” are dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, rodents, and turtles
  • Four pet maximum
  • No snakes, reptiles or farm animals and livestock
  • No drop-offs

Residents with special medical needs:

  • Special medical needs residents are those who require daily assistance with medical conditions that prevent or hinder their ability to care for themselves, as well as those who require electricity or oxygen
  • Residents countywide who have special medical needs that require electricity for medical purposes are also welcome in the special needs shelter.
  • A family member or caregiver should stay at the shelter with the individual
  • Special needs shelters provide only limited medical care

Alachua County

A Special Needs Shelter is open at the Alachua County Senior Recreation Center (5701 N.W. 34th Blvd., Gainesville).

For Alachua County, Nicole is not expected to be a flooding event, so only those in unsafe structures should consider sheltering, officials said.

Special needs shelters provide one cot per patient, not caregiver. Caregivers are asked to bring any needed bedding. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods and any prescription medications. Also, bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.

Those needing more information about the special needs shelter should call 352-955-2575.

A general population, pet-friendly shelter at Eastside High School is located at 1201 SE 43rd St., Gainesville, FL. Also, in cooperation with Putnam County, Alachua County residents will be welcome at the Ochwilla Elementary School shelter (also pet-friendly) located at 299 State Rd 21, Hawthorne FL. (just north of Highway 20) This shelter is 6.1 miles from Shell Elementary School in Hawthorne whereas Eastside High School is 12.7 miles from Shell Elementary school.

Shelters do not provide cots or beds. Bring any needed bedding. When packing to go to a shelter, please bring special dietary foods, baby food, diapers (and other child necessities), prescription medications, and a small cooler of ice if refrigeration is needed, as the shelter cannot be responsible for your medications. Also, bring spare clothing, personal care items (hygiene, toiletries, etc.), spare eyeglasses/contacts, and identification.

Pet-friendly shelters are intended to shelter cats, dogs, and their people safe. Citizens with pets are encouraged to bring basic pet supplies such as collars, leashes, crates, carriers, towels, blankets, pet medications, pet food, etc. Alachua County Animal Resources and Community Support Services staff will be on-site to encourage both people and animal safety. Animal Resources and Care will have supplemental supplies on hand for those in need. We encourage citizens to bring veterinary records indicating their pets are properly vaccinated. However, animals without such records will be vaccinated upon intake to minimize the spread of contagious diseases. Please remember that animals must be properly restrained throughout their stay at the emergency shelter for the safety of all involved citizens and pets.