Evacuees need pass to return to beach

Beach residents would have to present pass designed to prevent looters

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – In the event of hurricane evacuations, Jacksonville Beach residents would be required to have a pass to return to their homes following the storm.

The pass is used to prove where residents live and to prevent looters.

Paulette Waterman said she remembers that last time she was forced to leave her Jacksonville Beach home. It was more than 10 years ago, and her son was just a baby.

"I remember having him as an infant and booking it as fast as we could, which wasn't very fast because we were all on (Interstate) 10," Waterman said.

Getting out of town can be stressful, and so can getting back.

Years ago, Duval County created a system to help people get home in the event of a bad storm. Beach residents get a green pass and businesses get a blue one.

Jacksonville Beach Fire Chief Gary Frazier said these simple passes can make a confusing situation a little less chaotic.

"Basically, this is just to speed up the process of once people do (leave), if there was an evacuation, which I don't suspect will happen," Frazier said. "If it would happen during any storm, this allows them to get back in a little bit quicker. It allows our law enforcement officers to know who's suppose to be here and who's not suppose to be here."

The program was implemented at the beach in 2003, as is indicated on the passes. But fortunately, Frazier said, they haven't had to use them.

The last evacuation was in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd. Waterman said she remembers that time well, and she said even having a little pass makes her feel better.

"I think that's important, too, just to put everybody at ease, because if you've had to leave your home, you're really unsure of what was left behind," she said. "You know, do you have something standing? Do you not? I think just having a pass to come back to gives you a green light and something positive in a scary or unsettling situation."

Frazier said anyone in Duval County can get a pass for free at any nearby fire station. All residents need is proof of residence or business.