Putnam County evacuates Zone A; Baker County opens shelters

Sandbags available for residents of several NE Florida inland counties

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Colette DuChanois - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Putnam County on Monday ordered a mandatory evacuation for those living in Zone A -- primarly areas along the St. Johns River and its tributaries, including some portions of the immediate riverfront in downtown Palatka. The evacuation order also includes anyone living in low-lying areas, boats, recreational vehicles and mobile homes.

"Residents who are able to evacuate and are not utilizing a Putnam County shelter should begin evacuating as soon as possible in order to minimize traffic congestion," according to a release from Putnam County's emergency management office.

RELATED RESOURCES: Know your flood/evacuation zone |
Putnam County Evacuation Zone A Map |
Putnam County Evacuation Zone Address Lookup |
Mandatory Evacuation for Zone A announcement 

The county has opened five Red Cross shelters at 2 p.m. Monday for any resident and one special needs shelter.

  • Interlachen Elementary School, 251 S. State Road 315 Interlachen
  • Ochwilla Elementary School, 299 N. State Road 21 Hawthorne (Pet-friendly)
  • Q.I. Roberts Middle School, 901 State Road 100 Florahome
  • Browning Pearce Elementary School,100 Bear Blvd. San Mateo
  • Middleton-Burney Elementary School, 1020 Huntington Road, Crescent City
  • Kelley Smith Elementary School, 1411 Kelley Smith School Road, Palatka (Special needs)

RELATED: What to bring to a shelter

Richard Ulrich's Putnam County home sits a bit higher than some living along Dunns Creek. He said his home made it through floodwaters that rose during Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Matthew.

"I will probably stay here, but I will make my final decision tomorrow (Tuesday) during low tide, and I might get in the RV and move it," Ulrich said.

Jimmy and Loraine Mills just moved to Putnam County from Virginia and purchased a home off an inlet connected to Dunns Creek. Jimmy Mills plans to ride out the storm.

"I'm getting the dog ready and take him to my sister's," Loraine Mills said.

Ahead of the storm, the Putnam County Marine Unit spent some time Tuesday with the Coast Guard, checking on residents in the low coastal areas of the county.

Putnam County Sheriff's Office

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit spent some time with the Coast Guard and checked on residents in the low coastal areas of Putnam County ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (Photo courtesy: Putnam County Sheriff's Office)

Putnam County schools -- some of which are now being used as shelters -- are closed through Thursday.

According to emergency management, tentatively, per Florida Department of Transportation advisement, the County Road 310 bridge will be closed starting Tuesday. An exact time was not announced. But emergency management said the bridge will remain closed until storm conditions subside and follow-up inspections can be conducted to determine if the bridge is safe to reopen. Earlier closure of the bridge may occur if conditions escalate earlier than projected.

Be advised that flooding of bridges, culverts and roads throughout the county during the storm event is anticipated. People should not drive through flooded bridges, culverts and roads. The structural integrity of the bridges, culverts and roads will not be determined until the waters recede.

The Central Landfill was open on Tuesday only, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. County garbage was collected Tuesday, on holiday schedule, so Monday customers will be collected Tuesday. The county landfills will be closed and there will be no garbage pick-up on Wednesday for Putnam County residents. Garbage pick-up will resume as soon as possible throughout the county. There will be no recycling pick-up the remainder of the week. 

County offices and the Putnam County Courthouse will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Court closures for the 7th Judicial Circuit have been extended through Thursday, Sept. 5.  However, first appearances for Thursday will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Volusia County and as scheduled in Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Regular operations are expected to resume on Friday, Sept. 6. The 7th Circuit includes Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties. This closure affects the Putnam County Courthouse in Palatka.

Putnam County Parks and Recreation said soccer registration is extended until 5 p.m. Sept. 13. However, officials will not be in the office Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday due to county response to Hurricane Dorian. This will push the soccer coaches meeting to 6 p.m., Sept. 16, at the Edgar Johnson Senior Center. The coaches will not be calling until after that date. Games will begin Sept. 30. If you have any questions about any of this, please call the Parks and Recreation Office, starting Thursday morning at 386-329-1268

The following meetings have been canceled due to Hurricane Dorian:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m. – Quint Studer Public Presentation in Board of County Commissioners Meeting Room
  • Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 9 a.m. – Quint Studer Presentation to the L.O.G.I.C. Committee in Board of County Commissioners Meeting

There were three sandbag locations in Putnam County: 

  • 1553 County Road 308, Crescent City (Huntington Pit)
  • 145 W. Washington Street, Hawthorne (Chesser Pit)
  • 223 Putnam County Blvd., East Palatka (Public Works)

The sand and bags were available from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday at all three locations.

For emergency notification register at putnamalert.com and monitor putnam-fl.com for up to date information or call the Putnam County Emergency Operations Center call center at 386-
329-1904. Information can also be found at putnam-fl.com.

Residents are encouraged to download the Putnam County Community Preparedness app.

  Tracking Dorian

Columbia County

Columbia County Emergency Management continues to monitor Hurricane Dorian.

The Columbia County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency Friday morning. 

Columbia County Public Works distributed sandbags from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. There was a 15-bag limit per vehicle.

Distribution locations:

  • Columbia County Public Works, 607 NW Quinten Street, Lake City, FL 32055
  • South Columbia Sports Complex, 17579 SW State Road 47, Fort White, FL 32038

According to Emergency Management, Columbia County can expect to feel the impacts from Hurricane Dorian during the day on Wednesday and possibly into the evening hours. The forecast is predicting an inch to an inch and a half of rain with winds below tropical storm force (39 mph) for the duration of the event.  

Columbia County Schools will be closed Tuesday. All Columbia County schools and Florida Gateway College will be in session Wednesday. All city and county government offices will be open during normal business hours on Wednesday.

The county asked residents to follow its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ColumbiaCountyEOC/ and its website at www.columbiacountyem.com.  

Baker County

The Baker County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management team is continuously monitoring Hurricane Dorian. 

Schools will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Sheriff's Office said it expects classes to resume on Thursday, weather conditions permitting.

All Baker County offices and City of Macclenny office will be closed on Wednesday.

There will be no garbage pickups on Wednesday. If your normal pickup is on Wednesday, your garbage will be picked up on Thursday. If your normal pickup is on Thursday, your garbage will be picked up on Friday.

Sandbags were available at the City of Macclenny Yard, located at 764 Hartline Drive behind the Baker County Health Department, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3. The limit was 10 sandbags per person. Sandbags were for Baker County residents only. 

Two shelters opened at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3:

  • The general population for residents in low-lying areas and mobile homes will be open at the Macclenny Elementary School, located at 1 Wild Kitten Drive in Macclenny. 
  • The special needs shelter for residents who require special care or are medically dependent on electrical access will be opened at Ed Fraser Hospital, located at 159 North Third Street in Macclenny. 

You will need photo identification to register at the shelter. Please bring any items you may need -- including medication, blankets, food, water and clothing -- for at least two days. Shelters are not pet-friendly. 

The Emergency Management team urges all resident to begin planning and preparing for any storm-related issues you or your family may face. It is important to plan for power outages and the need for food and water during those outages. If you have any questions or concerns as Hurricane Dorian approaches, contact Emergency Management staff at 904-259-6111.

Information regarding Hurricane Dorian can also be found at bakercountyfl.org and the Baker County Sheriff's Office Facebook page

Union County

The Union County Emergency Operations Center has been at Level 2 Activation since Thursday and will be constantly monitoring Hurricane Dorian.

Union County schools were going to be closed through Thursday, but the superintendent said Tuesday that schools will only be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and schools will be reopening Thursday.

County government will remain open this week unless predicted weather conditions change.

With current projections, shelters would not need to be opened, the Sheriff's Office said.

More information can be found on the Union County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

Bradford County

The storm will be closest to Bradford County on Wednesday, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Bradford County Emergency Management is at a full Emergency Operations Center activation and will be watching local conditions closely until Dorian moves on and away from Florida.

Effective at noon Tuesday, the rumor control line for Bradford County is active. The number is 904-368-3943.

Bradford EMS is staffing an additional ambulance beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday. Starke Fire Rescue will have enhanced staffing for the duration of the storm. Bradford County Sheriff's Office has added extra deputies on the road for the duration of the storm and any recovery efforts. The Sheriff's Office also has a number of vehicles with chainsaws and equipment for storm recovery. The Bradford County Road Department has 12 chainsaws and 2 polesaws as well as the fuel truck ready for supporting county resources.

All schools are closed, both public and private, Tuesday and Wednesday. Starke Elementary School is prepared to open as a shelter if required.

All county offices are closed Tuesday and Wednesday, including the Courthouse, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Sheriff’s Office Administrative Offices, Clerk of Court and the Supervisor of Elections.

Sandbag distribution operations concluded Monday after 13,000 sandbags were handed out.

As part of Bradford County's Emergency Management's hurricane preparations, all three gates at the Sampson River Water Control Structure (3-Pipes) were opened at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30. Emergency management is monitoring the levels of the lakes and rivers daily and will address any issues that may arise.

For more information, visit the Bradford County Emergency Management Facebook page and the Bradford County Sheriff Facebook page.

Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith

Photo: Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith via Facebook

Alachua County

Due to the latest forecast on the path of Hurricane Dorian, Alachua County Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, but will reopen on Wednesday. According to Alachua County Emergency Management, Santa Fe College will reopen Wednesday. The University of Florida will be closed to students on Wednesday, but opened for employees.

Please stay tuned to updates from Alachua County Solid Waste and Resource Recovery as hours of operation may change due to storm conditions at any time. For more information, visit www.AlachuaCountyRecycles.com or call 352-338-3233.‚Äč

The 311 Rumor Control phone number is now active. Call 311 or 352-264-6557 if you are outside Alachua County. Please use it to verify the most up-to-the-minute information on Hurricane Dorian. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. For emergencies that are not life-threatening, call 352-955-1818.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe signed a declaration of emergency for the city, which is in effect until Wednesday, Sept. 4. This enables city staff to fully utilize all resources necessary to keep the public safe. Public safety officials are asking the public to stay off the roads when the storm nears, if possible. This will allow emergency vehicles to respond to the highest priority needs first.

City of Gainesville meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday were canceled.

The State of the District update scheduled for the Sept. 4 Black-on-Black Crime Task Force meeting has been postponed to Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the Gainesville Police Department. 

Trash and refuse collection will continue per its normal schedule. City operations are also expected to resume on Wednesday, Sept. 4, but the city emergency management team will make determinations as necessary as the storm advances. 

Report price gouging at 866-966-7226.

Parking enforcement has been suspended. Residents may use the city’s downtown parking garage for no charge throughout this weather event.

Please call 352-334-2871 to report power outages and 352-334-2550 for natural gas emergencies.

RTS expects to provide regular Saturday and Sunday service and provide holiday service on Monday. According to the City of Gainesville, RTS is on a reduced bus service schedule for Tuesday, Sept. 3, with the expectation that routes will return to full-service Wednesday. Visit www.go-rts.com for more information. 

Non-emergency issues can be reported via 311GNV online at www.311GNV.org. (iPhone and Android apps are also available). Visit www.safeGNV.org for storm preparation information and current event information.  

Residents are encouraged to monitor local news broadcasts closely and the City of Gainesville’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and/or website for the latest updates on the storm. Sign up for email, phone and text notifications at www.alertgnv.org. Information can also be found at https://alachuacounty.us/depts/em/pages/dorian-2019.aspx and on the Alachua County Emergency Management Facebook page.

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