Don't suffer from storm fatigue: Hurricane Irma warnings are real

Jax Beach mayor: If threat is not taken seriously, 'people are going to die'

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Mandatory evacuations underway at Jacksonville area beaches as Hurricane Irma nears. But after Hurricane Matthew last year, it appears that many local are suffering from "storm fatigue."

All week, some people in the beach community expressed uncertainty about whether they would evacuate, even with the mandatory order. 

People are tired after hurricane Matthew and Hermine. It's mentally and physically exhausting to pack up children and pets, secure the home and go somewhere else. 

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham told News4Jax on Friday he's exhausted, too, but they are working to save lives and the warnings are real.

Beaches businesses are boarded up, but News4Jax found some neighbors who were quietly considering staying. Jacksonville Beach mother Sarah Palmer was not one of them.

"I just truly don't believe people here have gone through an actual hurricane in a really long time, if ever," Palmer said.

A Louisiana native, Palmer has survived hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and vividly remembers riding out Hurricane Andrew as a child when it her home state as a Category 3 storm. 

"We had to sleep under the stairs that night. I remember my mom had to hover over me," she said. "I remember this dumpster across the parking lot and the whole time my parents were watching it and, sure enough, halfway through, it came crashing through our front window."

It was a scary moment that her family survived, but a trauma she doesn't want to relive.

"Amen," Latham said.

With three hurricanes -- Hermine, Matthew and now Irma -- in under two years now, Latham said, he understands why some have storm fatigue.

"All of us are tired," Latham said. "My heart goes out to the Sanctuary in Jacksonville Beach. We had 50 people flooded out that couldn't live in their homes."

But, the mayor said, "If people don't take this threat seriously, people are going to die."

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It's a warning that The Weather Authority's Meteorologist Rebecca Barry echoed for anyone considering a hurricane party at local beaches. 

"Storm surge is deadly. It kills people. In the worse case scenarios, it removes homes from their slabs like we saw in the Mississippi coastline with Katrina," Barry said. "Best case scenario, you get a little water in your home. People get electrocuted in that water. People drown in that water. Then you have to live in that water until it recedes if you choose not to evacuate."

Something to remember: Jacksonville Beach only got, essentially, tropical storm winds with Hurricane Matthew because it did do that last-second wobble to the east. The area is forecasted to receive hurricane-force winds with Irma, so trees will be coming down, siding will come off homes and roofs will be damage.

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About the Author:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.