ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The aftermath of Tropical Storm Nicole is starting to reveal itself as flooding increases in St. Johns County.
News4JAX was on the scene in downtown St. Augustine as the skies started to clear and the rains from Nicole rolled out.
The area was already experiencing severe flooding near State Road 16 and Masters Drive, which is a heavily traveled area.
A resident was seen walking through the water with water up to his calves.
News4JAX had to turn around in the area, but some drivers were seen attempting to drive through the high waters. Some drivers got stuck and had to be pulled out from the water.
It’s advised that drivers avoid the area and do not try to drive through flood waters.
FDOT closed off one part of State Road 16, and The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office was redirecting traffic as well.
Some locals told News4JAX they never seen flooding like this in that area.
NICOLE UPDATE: A portion of the road near the 3400 Block of Coastal Highway has been compromised due to the effects of storm surge combined with high tide.— St. Johns Co EOC (@StJohnsEOC) November 10, 2022
Please continue to shelter in place as many roads remain impassable.
#MySJCFL #Nicole pic.twitter.com/NBp1HhT98R
Bridge of Lions closes
St. Johns County officials have closed the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine Thursday morning as Tropical Storm Nicole brings increased wind gusts and high tides.
News4JAX spoke to St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick about the possibility of more road closures being called in the area as wind gusts increase and high tides flood the streets.
No other bridges in St. Johns County have been closed at the time.
Hardwick said the Bridge of Lions is a completely different beast when it comes to wind gusts.
“That bridge is probably the quickest bridge to close because of the high tides and the adjustment of the wave pressure on the bridge,” Hardwick said. “A1A South and the county line coming back into the Summer Haven area is closed because it’s been breached by the ocean.”
Officials are still monitoring Nicole’s impact and will continue to make traffic decisions according to the conditions.
Hardwick also recommended that residents stay put and avoid driving if possible.
“We ask you to drive slow if you have to get out and about, but we’d rather you just stay home today,” Hardwick said.
Flooding in downtown St. Augustine was significant.
Hardwick also said officials have experienced minimal calls for service from St. Johns County residents as Nicole makes its way over the county.
“Our citizens are incredible in St. Johns County when they heed our warnings,” Hardwick said.
You can call 904-824-5550 for the St. Johns County information line.
On Wednesday, officials announced evacuation orders for the county as Nicole gained hurricane strength and was expected to bring increased flooding.
“If you are in an unsafe location, a low-lying area or if you flooded in Ian or the nor’easter last year, we want you to be safe and seek shelter,” said Joe Giammanco, St. Johns County Emergency Management Director.
Breaches have also left part of A1A closed at Marineland at the St. Johns-Flagler County line after high tide brought water into the roadway Wednesday morning. The flooding left a sludge sand behind on the roadway.
Officials have been blocking off the road since News4JAX got to the area in the morning. Bulldozers could be seen scooting sand from the road as strong winds and rough water battered the coastline.
Please don't drive on A1A unless absolutely necessary. As you can imagine, sections of our favorite scenic byway have been taking a serious beating. Please support the efforts of our local law enforcement and road crews by staying off the roads and avoiding hazardous situations. pic.twitter.com/2PeJQpG451— Flagler County Emergency Management (@FlaglerEOC) November 10, 2022
At some points Wednesday, A1A has been closed all the way up to Summer Haven. The Intracoastal Waterway also crept into people’s driveways, up tributaries, and in some places, onto the road.
At Henry Green’s parents’ house at Crescent Beach, the water came a few inches into the garage around high tide.
“Water is our biggest concern,” Green said. “I don’t think this is a wind event ... the wind doesn’t really worry me as much.”
Even close to low tide around 2 p.m. Wednesday, standing water gathered in some Crescent Beach streets.
St. Johns County issued a voluntary evacuation notice for its coastal areas effective at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Green said he and his family are going to wait and see what happens.
“If the tide gets really high tonight, we’ll be out of here,” Green said.
The county is advising those who live in RVs, mobile homes, manufactured houses and boats throughout the county to evacuate.
Two shelters opened in St. Johns County for residents:
- 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
In the meantime, officials are urging people not to drive on flooded roads and to be mindful of their wake if they do.