JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville is keeping a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Eta even though the changing course of the storm caught some off guard.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday he was briefed in the morning by the emergency operation center staff when they saw the storm shift.
“This storm will bring a slight risk of excessive rainfall and moderate to high winds throughout our area for most of the day tomorrow,” Curry said during an evening press conference. “Due to the higher than normal tides, we may also see some flooding. That’s why today our Public Works teams have been proactively working in areas that historically presented challenges.”
Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said Wednesday evening that all students in Duval County will move to online learning on Thursday and all after-school activities have been canceled.
Greene said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to possible transportation issues. Tropical Storm Eta is expected to impact Duval County around the time students get out of school. Students are expected to return to campuses on Friday after the storm passes.
Curry said the city is not closing city offices or departments, nor are there any mandates for private businesses.
“While we don’t expect any significant impacts, I’m asking everyone to use extra caution if they need to leave your homes tomorrow,” Curry said.
Sheriff Mike Williams said he does not expect any bridge closures in Jacksonville due to the storm.
“Remember, bridge closures require 40 mph sustained winds,” Williams said. “We don’t anticipate that, however, we will have people monitoring those winds to make sure that we don’t exceed that threshold and if we begin to get close, obviously, we’ll be briefing out through the media to let people know.”
News4Jax reporters were in various areas of the city Wednesday checking to see how people were preparing.
For those living along Ken Knight Drive on the Northside, next to the Ribault River, there was a sense of dread.
People there remember three years ago when Hurricane Irma did major damage to homes. Some are still recovering.
Glenda Dickerson has been in the area for 11 years and she hates to think about what would happen if Eta dropped a lot of rain in the coming days.
“The unmentionable,” Dickerson said. “The flooding, no way to get from the back (of the neighborhood), no transportation to get out because it floods so bad. Alligators will be running around out of the river.”
Curry said as of Wednesday afternoon there are no plans for evacuations or shelters.
“All those things are up for consideration but at this point, no decisions have been made so people need to stay tuned,” Curry said.
Curry also urged residents to stay out of the ocean as rough conditions are expected.
Dickerson said she believes the city should be doing more for those who live along Ken Knight Drive.
“(THEY) need to canvas the area more take care of all of the debris that’s back in our places that’s on city property,” Dickerson said.
She said she believes if the city did more it would help the water flow freely in the river instead of backing up into their homes.