Latest closures, reopenings for parks, beaches, government offices, more in Ian’s wake

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments closed Wednesday in anticipation of severe weather and potential impacts from Hurricane Ian.

For updates, please check park websites at www.nps.gov/casa and www.nps.gov/foma.

Follow the Castillo on Facebook (CastilloNPS) and Instagram (castillonps). Follow Fort Matanzas on Facebook (FortMatanzasNPS) and Instagram (fortmatanzasnps).

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Fort Frederica National Monument closed to the public at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The park will remain closed until after the storm has passed and re-open once damage assessments have been made and the park is deemed safe for visitation.

Cumberland Island National Seashore closed to the public at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The park will remain closed until after the storm has passed and will re-open once damage assessments have been made and the park is deemed safe for visitation.

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State park closures

As of Thursday morning, several state parks in our local counties closed because of Ian, and many closed across the state.

Locally, the following parks have been affected by the storm. Please visit specific park webpages for details and the latest information:

For the full list statewide, click here.

Other parks

After several days of rain, Floridians are now able to get out and enjoy the sunny, cooler weather left behind by Hurricane Ian. As of Saturday, the St. Johns River Water Management District has re-opened several of their lands and all the navigational locks.

While some activities may be limited, our properties have many recreational opportunities to offer, including hiking, birding, horseback riding, fishing, and more.

Due to the significant amount of rainfall in Central Florida, many District-owned lands, including the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, remain closed due to flooding. Staff will continue to reassess these properties and will re-open them as soon as it is safe for visitors.

For the most up-to-date list of open District properties, visit our website at www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/announcements/.

The list will be updated on a regular basis as staff continue to perform their safety assessments.

Columbia County parks reopened Friday.

St. Johns County Parks and Recreation staff is in the process of assessing and evaluating the damage and condition of parks, athletic fields, boat ramps, playgrounds, and facilities. All grass multipurpose, baseball, and softball fields remain closed until Monday, Oct. 3. Activities previously permitted on artificial turf fields will be allowed throughout the weekend. Residents are asked to allow staff time to assess all County facilities to ensure that any downed trees and storm debris are cleared and any damage is repaired for safety throughout the county. For updates on Hurricane Ian recovery efforts in St. Johns County, please visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management Citizen Information Line at 904.824.5550.

Green Cove Springs City Pool will be closed Friday, September 30, 2022 to Sunday, October 2, 2022 due to hurricane weather conditions. City Pier, Spring Park Kayak Launch, and Vera Francis Park Canoe and Kayak Launch, as well as all City public parks will be closed starting 8 a.m. Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Depot Park in Gainesville opens Friday from noon-7 p.m. Ironwood Golf Course opens Saturday, Oct. 1. All other parks and facilities reopen Monday, Oct. 3.

Beach closures

Due to potential extreme high tides and unpredictable ocean conditions related to Hurricane Ian, beach driving on all St. Johns County beaches will be restricted beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. At this time, pedestrian access to the beach will remain available at off-beach parks and beach walkovers.

Dangerous surf conditions and rip current activity are expected. Beach visitors are encouraged to avoid ocean swimming until conditions improve. Beach driving access will be reinstated when conditions allow.

For additional information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management Citizen Information Line at 904-824-5550.

Government offices

In anticipation of Hurricane Ian, Chief Judge Mahon has closed the courthouses in the Fourth Judicial Circuit as follows:

  • Duval and Nassau Counties: Starting at 12 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday
  • Clay County: Wednesday through Friday

The Duval County Clerk of Courts offices will be closed from 12 p.m. on Wednesday through the close of business on Friday. This includes both the Duval County Courthouse and the Clerk’s beaches branch at 1543 Atlantic Blvd.

All Jacksonville city offices (except Senior Centers) will close to the public and non-essential personnel at noon Wednesday. Senior Centers will remain open until 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Clay County government offices will close at noon on Wednesday and will remain closed Thursday and Friday, pending storm impacts. Closures will include the County Administration Building and Public Works Offices, public libraries, Clay County Animal Services, the Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, and Sheriff’s Office Non-Emergency Administration Offices. The Clerk of Court and Comptroller’s Office, Clay County Courthouse all branches will be closed all day Wednesday through Friday.

Green Cove Springs City Buildings will be closed starting 7 a.m. on Thursday, September 29, 2022, with reopening announced as weather conditions are safe for normal operations.

All St. Johns County government offices including those under the Board of County Commissioners, the City of St. Augustine, the City of St. Augustine Beach, the Supervisor of Elections, Clerk of Courts, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, and St. Johns County schools will reopen on Monday, Oct. 3.

The St. Johns County Public Library System branches and book drops will reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, resuming normal business hours. For more information about the St. Johns County Public Library System, please visit www.sjcpls.org.

Most Flagler County parks and buildings remain closed until Monday but the Public Library Main Branch in Palm Coast is open until 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We were happy to be able to open a little early to offer our residents a cool place to visit and WiFi,” said Library Director Holly Albanese. “People can come in and enjoy all the amenities we have to offer.”

County crews are working to get the floating docks set today for the parks along the Intracoastal Waterways and checking other parks facilities to ensure they are safe.

“We are working diligently to get things back in order,” said County Administrator Heidi Petito.

Officials in Bunnell are asking residents to continue to limit water usage.

“As power is restored across Bunnell we understand the need to want to do laundry and take showers, however the Wastewater Treatment Plant continues to try to deal with excessive amounts of water from the rainfall and the stormwater system,” said City Manager Alvin Jackson. “To prevent an influx of wastewater into the plant which could lead to sewer back-ups across the city, we ask that you continue to limit water usage throughout the weekend.”

At the www.flaglercounty.gov/emergency website, residents can sign up for the ALERTFlagler notification system, directly accessible at www.flaglercounty.gov/alertflagler.

The Florida Department of Health-Flagler offices will be closed as of Wednesday through Friday.

Alachua County offices will be closed Wednesday through Friday. The agencies below are also closed Wednesday through Friday. We expect more closure announcements soon.

  • The Alachua County Tax Collector
  • The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections
  • The City of Gainesville
  • The Alachua County Library District
  • The Alachua County Property Appraisers
  • Alachua County Sheriff’s non-essential employees
  • Eighth Circuit Court (see details below)

Due to the expected effects of Hurricane Ian, all Eighth Circuit Court events in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, and Union Counties are canceled beginning Wednesday at noon and continuing through Friday. Court events in Levy County are canceled beginning Wednesday at 8 a.m. and continuing through Friday.

On Wednesday, there are no changes to the First Appearance, Shelter, and Detention Hearing protocol. Those events will take place as set forth on the weekly court calendar.

On Thursday and Friday, First Appearance, Shelter, and Detention Hearings circuit-wide will take place in Alachua County, following the weekend protocol, and will be presided over by the Alachua County Court judge as set forth on the weekly calendar. All participants may appear by Zoom using the regular weekend Zoom link.

Gainesville city offices will be closed Wednesday through Friday. Gainesville Regional Utilities’ lobby and drive-thru also will be closed Wednesday through Friday, and GRU has suspended customer disconnections for nonpayment through Sunday, Oct. 2.

The Columbia County Board of County Commissioners offices will reopen Friday.

The Columbia County library will reopen Friday, September 30 at 9 a.m.

The Columbia County Tax Collector will reopen Friday with limited staff. The main office and drive-thru lane will open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additionally, the Tax Collector has extended September Installment payments through Friday, October 7. Individuals can still pay online at any time.

The Columbia County Courthouse will be closed Thursday and Friday. This relates to all offices housed in the Courthouse, including the Third Judicial Circuit Court offices, County Court offices and Columbia County Clerk of Courts. Normal business operations will resume Monday, October 3.

Starting on Wednesday, September 28, through Friday, September 30, the City of St. Augustine government offices will be closed.

Putnam County government offices will be closed Wednesday, Sept 28 through Friday, Sept 30. Offices will reopen on Monday, Oct 3.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, beginning at 8 a.m., the Historic Downtown Parking Facility will be open to the public, free of charge through Saturday, Oct. 1. Downtown, city-operated pay stations will no longer charge for parking for the duration of the storm.

Officials from the Camden County Board of Commissioners and the Cities of Kingsland, St. Marys, and Woodbine jointly agreed to close all local government offices Wednesday September 28, 2022, through Friday, September 30, 2022.

The Camden County Health Department is suspending operations Wednesday, September 28th through Friday, September 30th. All District offices will also close Thursday and Friday.

NAS Jacksonville closure

The Naval Air Station Jacksonville Commanding Officer is ordering the closure of NAS Jax to non-essential personnel beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Based on inclement weather, all facilities aboard the station will remain closed through tomorrow and POSSIBLY Friday.

For more information, click here.

Port reopens with restrictions

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) has set Port Condition FOUR with restrictions in the Port of Jacksonville and opened the Port of Fernandina without restrictions.

All mariners must follow the restrictions listed below in the port of Jacksonville:

  • Only one-way traffic is authorized for vessels over 500 gross tons transiting the port,
  • Vessels may only transit the port during daylight hours,
  • Vessels may not transit the port if visibility is less than 10 nautical miles.
  • Vessels without pilotage may contact the COTP to request authorization at (904) 591-7253.

Hurricane Ian’s severe weather is no longer a threat to the ports of Northeast Florida. However, the conditions of the waterways and port infrastructure are still unknown, and full assessments of the affected areas are still being conducted.

As the assessments are being completed, the COTP may open specific portions of the port and/or allow certain vessels to transit these areas.

Information on the status of Port Conditions can be obtained from the Sector Jacksonville Homeport internet site at https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/jacksonville.

Other closures

Due to severe weather caused by Hurricane Ian, all Nemours Children’s Health, Jacksonville servers and phone lines are down. Nemours Children’s Health, Jacksonville leadership has decided to close all locations Friday. Following an assessment of the servers, a decision will be made regarding resuming normal operations on Monday. For additional information and real-time updates, please visit: www.nemours.org/ian.

Due to unfavorable river conditions, the JTA is unable to safely return the St. Johns River Ferry back to Mayport this morning, therefore it will not be returning to service Saturday afternoon. JTA will continue to monitor tides and will reassess conditions ahead of a possible trip back to Mayport on Sunday.

St. Johns County Council on Aging Sunshine Bus service will resume on Saturday, October 1, 2022. For Sunshine Bus updates, please visit www.sunshinebus.net or call customer service at 904-209-3716.

For more information regarding Hurricane Ian, visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Operations Center hotline at 904.824.5550.

Gainesville’s Regional Transit System Reduced bus service resumes Friday. Regular service resumes Saturday, Oct. 1, and regular service with game-day detours is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 2. RTS schedules and additional information are available on the GNVrideRTS app (rideRTS.app), on the RTS Facebook page or the RTS website, www.go-rts.com.

The First Coast YMCA will be closing normal operations at all of its locations beginning Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Before and after school programming will follow respective county school district closings. For example, if Duval County Schools cancels classes, before and after school programming at all Duval County YMCAs would be canceled.

Pending assessment of the storm’s impact, First Coast YMCA locations will plan to resume operations on Saturday, Oct. 1 at normal business hours.

Members and the general public are encouraged to monitor the First Coast YMCA’s app, website, and social media pages for the latest updates regarding closures and resources available to the community.

The McArthur Family YMCA (1915 Citrona Dr. Fernandina Beach, FL) will be closed the remainder of the day Wednesday following evacuation orders. It will reopen when the order is lifted ad it’s safe for members and staff to return.

Below is a detailed list of closures for First Coast YMCA locations:

Branches Closed:

  • Dye Clay Family YMCA
  • Johnson Family YMCA
  • McArthur Family YMCA
  • Ponte Vedra Beach YMCA
  • St. Augustine YMCA
  • YMCA at Baptist North
  • Winston Family YMCA
  • Barco-Newton Family YMCA
  • Brooks Family YMCA
  • Williams Family YMCA
  • YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village
  • YMCA at Nocatee
  • YMCA at Wildlight

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.