Crashes cause headaches around Jacksonville as Nicole floods Southbank Riverwalk

State of emergency remains in place as storm impacts

Southbank Riverwalk begins flooding during Tropical Storm Nicole. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County will remain under a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Nicole impacts the city, Mayor Lenny Curry announced joined by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and other city officials in a news conference on Thursday.

As Nicole heads west, he said the biggest threats to the city is the possibility of tornados, storm surge and tidal flooding along the beaches and the St. Johns River.

It’s anticipated that high tide Thursday night and into Friday morning will bring risks for excessive flooding, especially in flood-prone neighborhoods.

“If you live in Zone A or B, please stay away and be prepared. We currently have public works crews in flood-prone areas like McCoys Creek, Hogan’s Creek and San Marco where there is some localized flooding. There’s also flooding along Ken Knight Drive,” Curry said.

Flooding at Hogan's Creek caused by Tropical Storm Nicole (WJXT)

Shuttles are available to take residents in those flooded neighborhoods to the Legends Center shelter.

Curry said that he does not expect evacuations although shelters are open for those in need.

He advised that people stay off beaches and out of the water.

“The surf is breaching the dunes and there’s no beach to stand on. Once again this morning I watched local news and saw people were in the ocean. These are terrible conditions, and you are risking the lives of yourself and those that may have to come to rescue you. So, stay out of the water,” Curry said.

He also asked residents to stay off the road until the storm passes as powerlines, debris, and multiple crashes have caused incidents across the city.

One crash after another caused headaches for first responders and those out driving during Nicole in Jacksonville on Thursday.

A semi carrying cars overturned on I-295 near Heckscher Drive and then another tractor-trailer was flipped by a wind gust on the Dames Point Bridge, causing lanes to be closed in both directions.

A semi overturned on the Dames Point Bridge on Thursday during Tropical Storm Nicole. (WJXT)

Firefighters said the truck driver was trapped but was removed unhurt.

A crash near Spring Park closed all of Atlantic Boulevard around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

And a portion of Beach Boulevard was closed briefly because a live wire was down on the roadway.

A News4JAX crew spotted flooding along the Southbank Riverwalk near the Main Street Bridge and high water along the Northbank Riverwalk, drawing eerie comparisons to Hurricane Irma five years ago when downtown Jacksonville’s streets became rivers.

RELATED: Hurricane Irma brought record flooding to Jacksonville 5 years ago

Several docks at Goodby’s Creek were underwater outside North Florida Yacht Sales.

Some of the docks were underwater outside North Florida Yacht Sales during Tropical Storm Nicole. (WJXT)

Viewers sent images of backyards flooding along Heckscher Drive, calling it the worst they’d seen, and we spotted flooding in the Riverside area along the St. Johns River.

There was also a boat fire reported on the Ortega River.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Wednesday that he has signed a declaration of a state of emergency in Duval County effective at midnight.

He said “we do not expect evacuations,” but the city is still making shelters available.

Two shelters opened at 8 a.m. Thursday:

  • 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)

The mayor also announced the suspension of all garbage, recycling, bulk pickup and yard debris collections for Thursday. He said that Friday will be collected as scheduled and that a makeup day for Thursday will be this Saturday. So if your pickup day for any of these services is Thursday, that will now take place Saturday.

RELATED: Latest closures, cancellations around Jacksonville area due to Nicole | Here’s what we know about school closures for Nicole | County by county: How Nicole is impacting waste collection in Northeast Florida

The mayor reiterated that Duval County Public Schools will be closed on Thursday. In addition, according to the school district, all athletics activities, extracurricular activities and afterschool activities are canceled for Thursday and will be rescheduled. Athletic events and activities scheduled for Friday and Saturday are not affected, the district said.

City offices will be closed Thursday. They were already set to be closed Friday in observance of Veterans Day.

The Duval County Courthouse be closed on Thursday due to the approach of Nicole. As previously scheduled, the Courthouse will remain closed on Friday in observance of Veteran’s Day. As a result, the Duval County Clerk of Courts announces that all its offices will be closed beginning on Thursday through the end of business on Friday. This includes both the Duval County Courthouse and the Clerk’s beaches branch at 1543 Atlantic Blvd.

The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair will be closed Thursday because of the storm. The fair plans to reopen at 3 p.m. Friday and anticipates a regular schedule on Saturday.

Curry also reminded people to stay out of the ocean due to the dangers of swimming in extremely rough waters. Currently, there are red flag, high-hazard conditions at the beaches.

As for transportation, the St. Johns River Ferry will be closed Thursday. And Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus routes will run on a Saturday schedule on Thursday.

Anyone with questions that are not an emergency can call 630-CITY (2489). Curry said that beginning at midnight, lines will be open 24 hours and extra operators will be available to handle any call volume.

About the Authors:

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