Schools close, shelters open in Jacksonville as Hurricane Idalia threatens Florida

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan gives update on Tropical Storm Idalia preparations. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County schools closed and shelters opened at 12 p.m. Tuesday as Jacksonville prepared for the impact of Hurricane Idalia.

Mayor Donna Deegan declared a local state of emergency and said residents of Northeast Florida should prepare for hurricane-strength conditions.

All Jacksonville city buildings were be closed for nonessential personnel on Wednesday and all Duval County Public Schools will Thursday. No decision has been made for Friday or for Friday’s football games, the district said.

The 630-CITY (2489) phoneline is now operating 24 hours a day.

Tracking the Tropics | Know Your Zone | Hurricane Survival Guide

Current forecasts show the potential for inland hurricane-strength wind gusts in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georiga on Wednesday with the elevated possibility of tornadoes.

People who live in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding are encouraged to consider seeking shelter.

For people who can’t stay in their homes, Jacksonville shelters opened at noon Tuesday. The city said a new shelter was opened at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Chaffee Trail Elementary School to give relief to those in the Baldwin area, which could be hard hit.

The seven shelters will be at:

  • Chimney Lakes Elementary
  • LaVilla Middle School
  • Ocean Way Elementary
  • Landmark Middle School
  • Atlantic Coast High School
  • The Legends Center
  • Chaffee Trail Elementary School

Chimney Lakes and Landmark will be pet-friendly shelters and Atlantic Coast High School can accommodate those with special needs.

People can check in at any time. There is no cut off and they won’t turn you away.

Landmark Middle Principal Cicely Tyson White said she wants people to understand that this is a place where you can safely wait out the storm.

“I’d say if there is any other place you’d rather be come to Landmark,” White said. “Duval County Public Schools has opened up our doors to our community. We’re here. It’s a safe place. We are here to keep you and your family safe and at ease.”

JTA is offering free transportation to shelters, but all other routes are suspended on Wednesday. There are two ways to use the JTA service for shelters:

  1. Take any JTA bus marked “Evacuation Shuttle” on a regular JTA bus route before the announced cut-off time.
  2. Go to any one of the specially-designated public pick-up locations:
  • Fletcher High School, 700 Seagate Ave., Neptune Beach, FL 32266
  • Mayport Middle School, 2600 Mayport Road, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
  • Baldwin Middle-High School, 291 Mill St., West Baldwin, FL 32234
  • Jacksonville Beach Elementary 315 South 10th St., Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

A specific route will be stationed at Ken Knight Drive and Moncrief, Bus Stop 3991. Shuttles will run every 30 minutes to the Legends Center, until conditions deteriorate, providing transportation back to the bus stop when the shelter closes.

JEA crews were out on Monday trimming trees getting ready for possible high winds and the city was also preparing flood pumps and other measures to help during the storm. JEA suspended shutoffs due to nonpayment starting Monday, Aug. 28.

JEA said it is expecting widespread outages and around 2,600 employees have been activated to help.

For a list of what to bring and what not to bring to a shelter, click here.

It’s also important to know your evacuation zone, just in case. Evacuation zones can be viewed at or on the JaxReady mobile app.


Sandbags are not provided by the city. Jacksonville is a geographically diverse city, covering 840 square miles. The city’s stormwater needs and population size are different from neighboring counties.

Residents who believe sandbags are a necessity should consult with their local hardware store. In addition to sandbags, the city does not provide batteries, flashlights, radios, ice, first aid kits or canned goods. These are personal preparedness items that citizens are encouraged to acquire based on their anticipated needs.

Government offices

All nonessential government offices are closed Wednesday.

The Jacksonville Public Library was also closed Wednesday. Due dates will be extended and no late fines will be incurred.

Hanna Park, Huguenot Park, and the campgrounds were closed Wednesday. Assessments will be conducted Thursday regarding reopening.

City of Jacksonville Community Centers and Senior Centers (outside of those being used for emergency shelters) will be closed Wednesday.

The Duval County Courthouse and offices will be closed through Thursday.

All Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office buildings will be closed to the public Wednesday and are expected to re-open at the regularly scheduled times on Thursday.

Exception - The Department of Corrections is canceling the following services Wednesday and Thursday:

  • In-person Public Notary Services
  • On-site Video Visitation

These services will resume Friday, Sept. 1, unless deemed otherwise.

All lifeguards were pulled from Duval County beaches at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Citizens are asked to stay out of the water, off the beaches, and are asked not to walk or drive through any standing water.


All bridges are open. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) works closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol to monitor wind conditions at area bridges. If winds exceed specified levels, FDOT will work with law enforcement to close affected bridges. Any bridge closures will be communicated via local media channels, social media, the City website ( and the JaxReady mobile app.


Current status of JTA services

Status of Service

  • JTA Bus Routes – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30
  • St. Johns River Ferry – SUSPENDED beginning 8/29
  • ReadiRide – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30
  • Express Select – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30
  • Skyway – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30
  • Paratransit – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30
  • Administrative Offices – SUSPENDED beginning 8/30

St. Johns River Ferry

Service for the St. Johns River Ferry is suspended indefinitely. The vessel will be transported to a secure location until conditions allow for service resumption.

JTA Fixed Routes/ First Coast Flyer / ReadiRide / Express Select / Skyway/Connexion

  • JTA Fixed Bus Routes, the First Coast Flyer, ReadiRide, Express Select, and Skyway services will be suspended beginning Wednesday.
  • Additionally, JTA will suspend all transportation services if and when sustained winds reach 35 miles per hour and will cease crossing major bridges in accordance with the instructions of law enforcement officials.
  • Service is expected to resume on Thursday, depending on the severity of the storm and road conditions throughout Jacksonville.

JTA Administrative Offices

  • JTA Administrative offices will remain closed on Wednesday.
  • Offices are expected to open on Thursday, depending on the severity of the storm.

JTA Customer Service

Garbage, recycling

Curbside garbage, recycling, bulk and yard waste collections and household hazardous waste will be suspended Wednesday.

Schedules will return to normal Thursday.

For those whose scheduled collection day is Wednesday, a make-up collection will take place Saturday, Sept. 2.

For more answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

Homeless shelters

City Rescue Mission (CRM) will increase its overnight capacity as well as extend its hours for those seeking shelter from Hurricane Idalia.

Guests seeking safe shelter may check-in to City Rescue Mission’s New Life Inn at 234 W. State Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202, beginning Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. CRM’s shelter will remain open each day until conditions are deemed safe.

Homeless veterans have a safe haven at the Clara White Mission as it implements its storm prep protocol. The Mission will close Wednesday.

Staff members at the Mission are securing its facilities and the veterans who live in the Mission’s 28-bed dormitory. Clara White Mission is NOT an emergency shelter. The housing program is for homeless veterans only.

These closures also include White Harvest Farms, a program of the Clara White Mission located in Historic Moncrief Springs. Volunteers have been asked to reschedule their activities. They can do that online at

Comprehensive care and support will be provided by Sulzbacher to unhoused and unsheltered neighbors. The below list the details and locations of services available.

  • LaVilla School of the Arts 501 N. Davis St., will serve as shelter for all unhoused men, women and families in need. LaVilla will be open for shelter service through Thursday.
  • City Rescue Mission, 234 West State Street will provide overflow during the evening hours for all men, women and families in need. Check in is available during daytime hours.
  • Mission House in partnership with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will provide free transportation for all beaches neighbors in need to the area shelter, Landmark Middle School, 101 Kernan Blvd N. Transportation will continue through Wednesday.
  • Sulzbacher’s Urban Rest Stop, 611 E. Adams Street will open during normal operating hours from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. all week. For men who do not want to go to either of the designated shelter locations can find overnight support at Urban Rest Stop if needed.


For the Baldwin area, Town Hall and the Baldwin Market will be closed Wednesday.

The Senior Center will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Garbage and Recycle will be picked up on Friday.


Naval Air Station Jacksonville will be closed to non-essential personnel through Thursday.

Yorktown (Main) Gate will be the only gate open on Wednesday.

Only mission essential personnel will have access to the station on Wednesday until the installation returns to normal operations.

All Naval Hospital Jacksonville outpatient clinics/services (including immunizations, pharmacies, lab, radiology), Naval Branch Health Clinic Jacksonville, and Naval Branch Health Clinic Kings Bay & Mayport are closed Wednesday due to Hurricane Idalia.

The estimated reopening time will be 10 a.m. Thursday, however, this could be later depending on the level of damage the base receives.

For more information, visit

About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.

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