Jacksonville beaches under mandatory evacuation as Hurricane Irma nears

States of emergency declared in all 3 beach communities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s beaches are under mandatory evacuation orders, including the Baptist Beaches Hospital.

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, Mayor Lenny Curry was joined by the mayors of all three beach communities to announce a mandatory evacuation for Zones A and B -- which includes all of the barrier islands and areas adjacent to all waterways -- for Saturday. The city also announced opening of 13 shelters.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said all three beach cities are establishing a 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. curfew starting Saturday and continuing until further notice. Alcohol sales will be terminated at 6 p.m. Saturday until further notice. The beach/ocean will close 10 a.m. Saturday until further notice.

Latham said shelters will open at 10 a.m. Friday and a listing of shelters will be available then.

The bridges will close when the winds are sustained over 40 miles an hour.

Lots of residents up and down the beach have been prepping for Irma.

Jacksonville Beach work crews have put a few up sand dams to try and stop the storm surge and protect the homes and businesses.

One Jacksonville Beach family said they’re not taking any chances. They’re boarding up windows and getting out.

This weekend is the first time 74-year-old Pauline Collings has evacuated and she’s been at the beach since 1986.

“We are going on an adventure,” Collings said. “We are going to Gatlinburg. All 20 of us.”

Friday’s mandatory evacuation orders for the beaches have many people packing up and hitting the road.
Owner of Overkill Motorsports, Mitch Clary, said he is running on fumes after spending the night packing up his inventory and sending it from Jacksonville Beach to North Carolina.

“(I’m moving) three different motor homes, three different trailers, a smart car, five golf carts, three race cars, a Partridge and a pear tree,” Clary said.

Blocks away Overkill, there was a line of ambulances evacuating patients from Baptist Beaches Hospital to Baptist South. Officials said the move was made out of an abundance of caution.

Some beaches residents said they’re staying through the storm, but many said are listening to local leaders and are evacuating.

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

First responders and the mayor will eventually leave the beaches and stage at UNF for the worst of it. 

The mayor said there are no plans to shut off power or water at the beach as of now.

Re-entry passes will not be required for beaches residents returning from evacuating. Residents can use their driver's license to get back in. Business owners who live elsewhere can still go to the Jacksonville Beach fire station to get a critical re-entry pass but are not required. Business owners can bring a utility bill or insurance papers with their address and Latham said officials will work with them.

Starting at noon Saturday, only mission essential and blue housing cardholders will be allowed access to the base. 

Click here to visit the Duval COunty Emergency Preparedness webpage. 


Sandbags can be purchased at the following locations at Jacksonville Beach:

  • Turner Hardware – 784 Marsh Landing Parkway 
  • Home Depot - 3790 3rd Street S., Jacksonville Beach (Store has sand and bags, but not pre-filled)
  • The city does not offer sandbags

In Atlantic Beach, a limited quantity of sand was available for Atlantic Beach residents but bags were gone by 11:30 a.m. 

Sandbag distribution in Neptune Beach also ran out of sandbags.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.

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