Jacksonville evacuations still voluntary; mandatory possible by morning

Public schools closed; shelters likely to open Friday

Courtesy of City of Jacksonville
Courtesy of City of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents of evacuation zones A and B in Jacksonville and those who live in mobile homes who were already asked to voluntarily evacuate as Hurricane Irma approaches may be under mandatory evacuation order by Friday.

Mayor Lenny Curry said in his Thursday afternoon briefing that if the track of the major hurricane stays the same or gets worse, he will order evacuations on Friday morning.

The current forecast has Irma skirting the coast of Northeast Florida on Monday, with potential tropical storm- or hurricane-force winds from Sunday night until Monday evening.

“We have to move earlier than usual because of traffic coming from south of us and, now, because of the state of emergency in Georgia, north of us," Curry said. 

While he urged people to go north or west, if they can't because of traffic jams or other reasons, the city expects to open shelters on Friday. The locations and opening times of shelters will be released late Thursday or Friday morning.

City leaders and emergency management officials continued to prepare Thursday for potential impacts from Irma. Curry urged residents to follow the city's lead and prepare now for Irma, have a plan in place, know their flood and evacuation zones, and have their hurricane survival kit stocked.

Curry said the city would hold daily briefings and update the public throughout the storm.

For information specific to the Duval County beaches communities, click here.

Gov. Rick Scott has also declared a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties.

"It allows the free flow of resources ... based on an impact. We will be monitoring that locally as well. It is premature to declare a state of emergency here," Curry said.

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Latest Hurricane Irma info for Jacksonville | Jacksonville's beaches | St. Johns County | Clay County | Nassau County | Flagler County | Putnam County | Inland First Coast counties | Georgia counties

The director of JEA said the utility was doing what it can to avoid the extended outages experienced after Hurricane Matthew.

"We have well over 300 additional generators on-site and mobile," Executive Director Paul McElroy said. "Right now, we have people in the field ... making sure they are prepared to go in the event we are flooded. We have people preparing the distribution lines as well, walking and looking at the line as well."

Duval County schools closing

Public schools will dismiss early Thursday and be closed Friday and Monday. No decision has been made yet about when students will return to classes after the hurricane passes.

The early release schedule will follow normal early dismissal times for individual schools. All after-school events and extended day care are also canceled Friday and Monday.

The district moved all varsity football games to Thursday night and canceled JV and other athletic events.

For a list of all area schools closing, click here.

City cleans drains

The city is preparing storm drains for possible flooding from Hurricane Irma. Crews cleaned culverts and ditches Thursday and will continue to do so over the next couple days.

Public Works had vacuum trucks going down into the storm drains, clearing out all of the gunk and debris. 

"It's basically the city's  preparation for the storm to make sure there is proper water flow," Curry said.

The head of a public works said this is just the start. They will be doing this all week at various parts of the city.

"We are focused on areas that we know we've had challenges in the past," John Pappas said. "There are about 90 throughout the city. We go through those and we make sure that the systems are open. The capacity is there. So when those heavy rains come we are able to accommodate those And for those in this neighborhood well it was a site they didn't expect to see."

Free water fill-ups

Clearwater Systems Kinetico is offering free fill-ups of purified reverse osmosis water in your own containers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at  2181 St Johns Bluff Rd S Jacksonville, FL 32246. For information, call 904-646-4810.

Jacksonville-area Smoothie King locations are also filling up water when you bring your containers. They tweeted "Bring your refillable containers to Smoothie King & we'll gladly fill them with the 2x filtered water we use for our smoothies!"

City Rescue Mission offers emergency shelter

City Rescue Mission currently provides shelter for 250 people. We are providing accommodations for 100 additional people at City Rescue Mission's New Life Inn (234 W. State St., Jacksonville, FL 32202) for those in our community who are seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma.

CRM's New Life Inn shelter will open a noon Friday and will remain open until conditions are deemed safe.

CRM will also be distributing snack packs beginning at noon Saturday.

City Rescue Mission will be closely monitoring Hurricane Irma over the next several days and will provide updates on our emergency shelter and services daily.

Closures, cancellations

Riverside Avondale Preservation has canceled the Riverside Arts Market on Sautrday due to potential impacts related to Hurricane Irma. The market is anticipated to return with normal operations on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Please check social media accounts @riversideartsmarket for the latest updates.

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will be closed beginning Friday due to Hurricane Irma. Re-opening will depend on a post-storm evaluation of damage. For the safety of the art, staff and visitors, we will continue to evaluate conditions and open as soon as reasonably possible. All programs and events are canceled until assessments can be completed after the storm has passed.

JTA buses will run on normal schedule for now. The St. Johns River Ferry will run as usual Thursday but Friday it will be moved to Green Cove Springs for storage. It's not known when it will return to service.

City offices will close on Friday but trash pick up will take place.

The Clerk of Court's Office and Duval County Courthouse will be closed Friday and Monday. That includes the branch at 1543 Atlantic Blvd. No juries will be picked during the week of Sept. 11. Jury service for those who received summons for that date has been canceled and will not be rescheduled. Anyone who has questions can contact the Jury Services Department at 904-255-2087 during regular business hours.

The Adam Ant: Anthems Tour on Sunday at the Forida Theatre has been postponed. The theater is currently working with management to reschedule and will notify patrons when a new date is scheduled. Original ticket purchases will be honored for the new date and time.

The ElderSource Grandparent's Day event scheduled for Sunday in downtown Jacksonville has been postponed and will be rescheduled.

All Jax Federal Credit Union branches will be closed Saturday through Tuesday due to Hurricane Irma.

The United States Bankruptcy Court Jacksonville Division will be closed on Friday and Monday. All court hearings scheduled during this period are canceled.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Jacksonville office located at 4121 Southpoint Blvd. will be closed Friday. Those with appointments will receive notification of a new appointment date. For more information, visit our website at www.uscis.gov. The USCIS Jacksonville office provides immigration services and benefits.

CareerSource Northeast Florida will close at 5 p.m. Thursday and remain closed Friday and Monday. Conditions permitting, it will reopen to the public at 11 a.m. Tuesday. To find out if the career center nearest you is open, call 904-356-JOBS (5627) before visiting a center.

The Museum of Science & History will be closed to the public beginning Friday until further notice.

The Peace Concert hosted by Jax Sister Cities Association and OneJAX scheduled for Monday has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24.

Due to the potential for dangerous weather from Hurricane Irma, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast will close all branches all day from Saturday to Monday, and plan to open branches at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, depending on the impact of Irma. The Y is taking every precaution to protect members, program participants and employees. 

The following programs and events have been canceled:

  • YMCA Before and Afterschool Programs in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns County are canceled on Friday and Monday.
  • All Youth Sports programs scheduled for this weekend have been canceled.
  • The McArthur Family YMCA Kids Tri has been postponed to Friday, September 22. Registration has been extended. Contact the McArthur Y for more details.

Due to Hurricane Irma’s potential impact on Duval County, the Early Learning Coalition of Duval will be:

  • Closing all of its offices on Friday and Monday. This includes the ELC office on the Southside at 8301 Plaza Drive #201, the Northside office at 5216 Pearl Street, and the Westside office at 5310 Lenox Avenue, #5.  
  • Canceling all trainings, scheduled for Saturday and Tuesday.
  • Any School Readiness or VPK provider that must close due to weather conditions, can be paid under the ELC’s emergency closures policy. Providers should visit our website: www.earlylearningjax.org for more information.


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