Weather slows traffic, flights at JIA

Tree falls on Southside home; Jaguars postpone rally

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Pooling water slowed traffic early Thursday morning as the outer bands of Tropical Storm Andrea dropped heavy rain through Jacksonville.

High water in the 10500 block of San Jose Boulevard near the Publix shopping center just north of the Interstate 295 interchange. One van was stranded in the water, but most vehicles were still able to travel through the road, but drivers are urged to use caution or try to find a detour.

"You're going to find this situation across town, and it's only going to get worse during the day," said Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Chief Marty Senterfitt, noting rainfall should increase in the afternoon and early evening high tide. "If you see standing water, turn around, don't drown."

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There were a few weather-related delays reported Thursday morning at Jacksonville International Airport. The longest delay is to a United flight from Chicago that was running 52 minutes behind schedule. Flights into Jacksonville also showing delays are arrivals from Tampa and Washington National.

Among departing flights, Delta says a flight to Atlanta was delaying more than two hours.

Meanwhile in town, a tree split in half and fell on a vacant house in the 2900 block of Wilson Avenue on the Southside about 6 a.m. The other half of the tree fell into a yard across the street. No one was hurt.

The house the tree fell on has been vacant for about 30 years, according to a neighbor. That man said most of the street was without power, affecting 25 houses. He also said a tree fell in the same yard last spring.

"I heard the first tree fall on the house and I said, 'I heard something.' And I ran to the door, and a few seconds later I looked over there again and the second tree fell," Joseph Harrington said. "It was amazing. It was -- I couldn't believe it."

Crews worked to restore power in the area until about 11:30 a.m. City workers were then working to clear the roadway.

Sean Clancy said he and his friends weren't going to let Andrea ruin their weekend plans. They rented a beach house at Jacksonville Beach and still plan on staying there.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Alvin Brown encouraged residents to stay inside and out of the storm.

"As the storm intensifies later this afternoon and into the evening, we encourage residents to stay indoors and check for updates on the storm conditions," he said.

Many roads in Riverside were seeing flooding as the St. Johns River's choppy waters hit shore.

Brown also warned about the possibility of down trees and power lines.

"We don't want you going out there and picking up power lines," Brown said. "Call 911 if you see a power line down. If you see trees down, call 630-CITY.

As for Clancy's vacation, "We've got board games and stuff like that," he said. "We don't plan on leaving the house too much, but if the beach calls we're going to go."

McCoys Creek, which is known for flooding over the years, saw the waters rise, too, on Thursday.

Bill Cisco, who's the last of the original Drifters, a popular doo-wop band in the '60s, said he knows how bad the flooding gets at McCoys Creek.

"It's terrible, terrible. There's no driving through," he said. "Normally where we're standing, on a good rain, we're up to water up to here -- that's about eight feet higher than the road level."

Cisco's dad lived along the Creek, but now that he's passed away, Cisco comes down quite a bit from New Orleans to take care of the house. And fighting the flooding can be a bit frustrating.

"I ruined my Corvette trying to go through one time," he said. "I didn't realize how intense the flooding was, and I tried to talk to the city about it. The city had nothing to offer for retribution or anything."

The flooding didn't stop a lot of people from flying down McCoy Creek Boulevard on Thursday. So police closed part of it off to keep drivers safe.

For a list of closings and cancellations in northeast Florida, click here.

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