Jacksonville distributing water in aftermath of Irma

Mayor lifts evacuation order as Hurricane Irma recovery process begins

Courtesy of city of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day after emergency teams rescued more than 350 people in the River City during a flooding emergency when the St. Johns River breached its banks, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Zones A and B and announced the city would be distributing water to those in need.

Curry cautioned that although the evacuation order was no longer in effect, it's possible some residents might not be able to get back to their homes yet.

"By the grace of God, working through first responders yesterday, we saved lives," Curry said.

Curry urged people trapped in flooded homes Monday to use makeshift white flags if they needed to be rescued. Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel and those from agencies around the country were using boats to go door-to-door through flooded streets in Riverside. 

RELATED: Recovery efforts begin at beaches

'Epic' river flooding

National Weather Service meteorologist Angie Enyedi said the city was experiencing a Category 3 surge from a tropical storm, calling it a "trifecta effect," with a storm surge, 10-15 inches of rain, and high tide approaching at 2 p.m. Monday.

News4Jax cameras showed white-capped waves spilling over the bank at the Jacksonville Landing and the courtyard looking like a wading pool. There was at least 2 feet of water on Independent Drive and adjoining Laura and Hogan streets. 

Video from the top floor of The Peninsula condominiums showed water covering the Southbank Riverwalk and, looking across the river, showed water up against the Hyatt Riverfront Hotel and old Duval County Courthouse.

Curry called it unprecedented flooding -- a fact that was confirmed by weather data showing the city had already exceeded record flooding during Hurricane Dora in 1964. News4Jax meteorologist Mark Collins said the flood stage for the St. Johns River downtown is 2 feet, and it had reached 5.5 feet at noon Monday.

"I've heard this is bigger than Dora for our neighborhood," a Riverside resident said.

Chief meteorologist John Gaughan said while the waters would recede through the late afternoon Monday, flooding will stay with us for days, with rivers as high or slightly higher at the next tide after midnight.

City officials said the worst flooding would be from downtown south to the Buckman Bridge.

Those who need help should call 630-CITY, but if it’s an emergency, call 911. Fire Chief Kurt Wilson said Fire-Rescue got 600 calls in an eight-hour period. There have been no known deaths in Duval County.

Water available

Anyone in need of water can go to the following four locations, beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday:

  • Hobby Lobby – 14286 Beach Blvd.
  • McDonalds – 5801 Beach Blvd.
  • Edward Waters College – 1853 Kings Road
  • Supervisor of Elections – 1 Imeson Park Blvd.

Curry had ordered 264,000 residents of evacuation Zones A and B, and those in mobile homes and low-lying areas to leave their homes and find shelter. Those who sheltered in place during the storm but now want to evacuate can still go on to 12 shelters that remain open for people who still need to evacuate. Curry said shelters are only at 20 percent capacity. (Scroll down for full list of shelters.)

Transportation

All Jacksonville bridges had reopened by Tuesday morning. 

VIEW: Status of area bridges

JTA continues to assist the city with evacuating customers from flooded areas and transporting utility workers for JEA. 

JTA will begin limited fixed-route bus service as road conditions permit at noon on Tuesday. Specific route information will be posted on JTA's social media and www.jtafla.com. Routes will be added throughout the day as conditions improve. 

Connexion, JTA’s paratransit service is available for life sustaining trips.

The St. Johns River Ferry and the Skyway will remain closed until further notice.

JTA is planning to resume regular fixed route bus service on Wednesday.

JTA’s customer service line is open Tuesday from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to assist customers. Please call 904-630-3100 or TTY 904-630-3191.

Please follow JTA on Facebook and Twitter for service updates and route information.  

Power, closings

The city-owned utility, JEA, said early Monday afternoon that it appears power outages peaked at 280,000 -- higher than after Hurricane Matthew last October. Crews were out working and about 50,000 customers already had electricity restored.

The city will remain closed Tuesday for nonessential personnel. There was no trash pickup Monday, and the county said pickup will be pushed back a day all week. (For example, if your pickup is normally Monday, it will be Tuesday, and so on). Garbage pickup schedules will return to normal next week.

Duval County schools and most private schools will remain closed through Wednesday.

The Duval County Courthouse will remain closed Wednesday, along with the Clerk of Court's offices and other branches.

Shelters

General population shelters:

Landmark Middle School - 101 Kernan Blvd. N. (pets allowed)
Twin Lakes Elementary - 8000 Point Meadows Drive (no pets)
Chimney Lakes Elementary - 9353 Staples Mill Driver (pets allowed)
Mandarin Middle School - 5100 Hood Road (pets allowed)
Abess Park Elementary - 12371 Abess Blvd. (no pets)
Oceanway Elementary - 1255 Gillespie Ave. (no pets)
AT CAPACITY --  Legends Center - 5130 Soutel Drive (pets allowed)
Andrew Robinson - 101 W. 12th St. (no pets)
Arlington Middle School - 8141 Lone Star Road (no pets)

Special needs shelters:

AT CAPACITY - Legends Center - 5130 Soutel Drive (pets allowed)
Atlantic Coast High School - 9735 R.G. Skinner Parkway (pets allowed)
Oceanway Middle School - 142 Oceanway Ave. (no pets)
Enterprise Elementary - 8085 Old Middleburg Road (no pets)

While some shelters may offer food items, citizens are advised to bring snack to minimize food allergies, limited availability and other issues. Items to consider include:

  • Photo ID and important documents
  • Prescription medication
  • Water
  • Special dietary baby food and diapers
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Folding chair
  • Bedding
  • Hygiene products

Residents requiring special-needs transportation to a shelter should call 904-630-CITY. 

The Salvation Army said its downtown shelter is open for homeless needing safe shelter. The shelter is located at 900 W. Adams St. The shelter, called the Tower's Center of Hope, will open as weather indicates and will remain open as long as needed.