Jacksonville neighbors near St. Johns River prepare for Hurricane Irma

Many docks along river still damaged from Hurricane Matthew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many residents along the St. Johns River are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, so news that Hurricane Irma is continuing to track a little more west is not what they want to hear.

Some people who live along the river evacuated. But others said they're not leaving. 

The Donovan family is living their "dream," having moved into their new home on the St. Johns River in Fruit Cove just this summer.

The family's "nightmare" is the impending arrival of Irma.

"It's definitely devastating because you worry about, just, building a home and losing everything," Ginny Donovan said. "My husband and I, we built this house ourselves, so we are worried and concerned, however, you just do the best you can." 

A lot of the docks along the St. Johns River are still damaged from Matthew. The Donovans said it's not necessarily because people don't want to get them fixed, it's because it's about a year wait to find someone to do it. 

The Donovans were able to fix their dock themselves. But up the river in places like Beauclerc, there's still debris left from Matthew all over the place. That debris easily could turn into projectiles in Irma's wind.

"So we will see some strong winds mixing down over the St. Johns River, as well, which can push some water into vulnerable areas of downtown Jacksonville," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Angie Enyedi. 

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The National Weather Service warned Friday that places like the Jacksonville Landing are especially vulnerable because of surges reaching 3 to 6 feet.

For now, some residents who live near the river, including James Dionne, are just doing what they can to shelter in place.

"Boarding up everything, trying to get the generator running again and just make sure we're prepared (with) plenty of water, plenty of food," said Dionne. 

And plenty of patience as Jacksonville-area residents brace for the storm. 

Keep in mind, the river is already about a foot to a foot-and-a-half higher than normal because of the northeast winds and coming off a full moon.

It's going to be a tense few days along the St. Johns River. 


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