Residents of Jacksonville's beaches head out ahead of Dorian

Beaches closed due to rip currents, possible storm surge; curfew ordered

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Many residents of Atlantic, Jacksonville and Neptune beaches spent Monday packing and leaving their homes in advance of Hurricane Dorian.

A mandatory evacuation of Zones A and B in Duval County was ordered to begin at 8 a.m. Monday, but residents were told to take their time and get out by the end of the day. Any special needs citizens requiring assistance evacuating should call dial-a-ride at 904-246-1477.  

All three beach cities and the city of Jacksonville issued a joint Declaration of Emergency.

There is a mandatory curfew beginning Monday at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. each evening until further notice. Alcohol sales are banned beginning at 10 p.m. Monday and moving forward until the conditions improve.

Due to life-threatening surf and dangerous rip currents, all beaches were closed at midnight. The hazardous ocean conditions are likely to intensify to a point in which it will become too dangerous for Ocean Rescue to respond to emergencies in the water. For safety purposes, officials are urging everyone to not enter the water.

City officials and Ocean Rescue personnel have closed all activity on the water of the Atlantic Ocean due to extremely dangerous ocean conditions. This closure also applies to kite-boarders, jet skiers, swimmers as well as boaters.

If you see someone on in the water, officials want you to call 911. 

Residents are also asked to stay out of the Intracoastal Waterway.

According to the city of Atlantic Beach, if the beaches communities sustain heavy damage, re-entry will be put on hold until such time as public safety officials can ensure safety. The city of Atlantic Beach is committed to working fast to get our residents back home as quickly as possible. Re-entry passes are no longer issued in the event of a mandatory evacuation. Rather, state-issued IDs with Atlantic Beach addresses, or other documentation demonstrating Atlantic Beach residency or business ownership, may be required for re-entry. 

Bridges will remain open until weather and wind conditions are unsafe, which News4Jax chief meteorologist John Gaughan expects to happen at some point Tuesday evening. The St. Johns River Ferry will shut down Monday ahead of the severe weather conditions expected. Service will resume after JTA can ensure the safety of passengers after the storm passes.

Residents are reminded that there are NO re-entry passes, so you'll need to keep your driver's license with a beaches address handy to get back home after the evacuation is lifted. 

Nervous residents

The thought of Dorian making landfall in Florida has some people who live at the beaches on edge.

"I didn't sleep last night. Just thinking about all the stuff I had to do just in case," said Mirna Downing, who lives in Jacksonville Beach. "I just don't want to get caught at the last minute."

Downing said she's been stocking up on supplies for the storm.

"We got water. We're going to go and get nonperishables. We have a generator from before. I have a bunch of LED lights," Downing said.

Others, including Erik Paro, were waiting to see what happens.

"It's pretty scary, but I have not started preparing yet," Paro said. "I need to get some water and things like that."

As of last week, many people in Jacksonville Beach hadn't boarded up their homes. 

"I'm hoping that it goes somewhere else. I'm hoping it takes a detour," Downing said.

On Wednesday, residents and businesses in Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic beaches were making their last-minute preparations -- whether it be boarding up or grabbing a bite to eat.

"I think I'm evacuating. We'll know by tonight," Atlantic Beach resident Ivy Saig said.

"I'm staying. I don't think it's going to hit hard," Jacksonville Beach resident Claire Lewos said. 


Hotels prepare

The general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott at Jacksonville Beach said the hotel's main concern is the safety of guests and staff.

Sandbags have been placed at the entrances and emergency equipment is on hand.

WATCH: Jacksonville Beach hotel prepares for Dorian

Michael Hitt, the general manager, said about 100 guests were staying at the hotel Saturday. Numbers were dwindling because of cancellations.

"We've had a couple of people that didn't really know what to expect," Hitt said. "Irma was kind of the same situation where it wasn't very clear for us."

Hitt said during Irma, some rooms had water damage because of the way the wind was blowing. He said the hotel will keep all guests informed as new information became available.


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