ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Water quickly rose early Wednesday afternoon during high tide in the flood-prone Davis Shores neighborhood on Anastasia Island as Hurricane Dorian creeped north up the East Coast of Florida.
The Intracoastal Waterway waters were coming in, leading to flooding in the St. Augustine community. A News4Jax crew saw the water rise 6 inches in 10 minutes around 2 p.m. Wednesday, more than knee high and nearly submerging a fire hydrant.
Water was getting into several homes, including through the back of one home that appeared to be vacant. St. Augustine firefighters, worried the wake from vehicles would cause the water to flood homes, were stopping vehicles and asking people not to drive through the area. There were several kayakers in the streets, a man wakeboarding behind a pickup truck, children paddling on surfboards, neighbors surveying the waters and even a swimming armadillo.
Just before 3 p.m., the water was still rising along a part of Coquina Avenue. Tom Boyle showed News4Jax inside his girlfriend's home that was flooded and "completely devastated" during two hurricanes in back-to-back years. Boyle and his girlfriend said they tried to clear out the house as much as possible ahead of Dorian, but at least six inches of water still got inside areas of the home, ruining furniture and walls. He said they'll now have to tear out the walls for the third time.
"This is no more damage than has already been done," Boyle said.
As of 3:30 p.m., there were some streets in the neighborhood that had been taped off because of flooding.
"We all got lucky," said one Davis Shores homeowner named Jeff, who went to survey his home after the storm surge rushed in. "We got very, very lucky."
The homeowner told News4Jax that he did not believe water got into his house, but was appreciative of the community's support regardless.
"St. Augustine pulls together. Everybody pulls together," Jeff said. "We had friends help bag the house. This is one of these times when everybody pulls together."
Davis Shores experienced flooding during both Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017. Many residents have even started to build up, so their homes would be about 12 feet above sea level.
Also around early Wednesday afternoon, wind-blown waves from the Matanzas River were lapping at the seawall along St. Augustine's Historic District and there was some street flooding along the bayfront.
A viewer who lives on St. George Street, backing up to Cordova Street and Lake Maria Sanchez, said security cameras showed water up to the stairs in the backyard. He said Cordova Street was underwater about 2:20 p.m. after the lake had been breached.
State troopers and the Florida National Guard members stationed at both sides of the Bridge of Lions had only be allowing residents with identification and others with official business to pass on Wednesday morning. The Bridge of Lions was closed about 3:30 p.m. due to flooding on the east side of the bridge, but firefighters cleared the storm drains the bridge reopened about an hour later.
The Weather Authority said the water was not expected to go much higher in the neighborhood as the high tide passed into the evening. Meteorologists said the area was not expected to see another high tide while Dorian was still in the area.
The streets of St. Augustine were mostly deserted earlier in the day, as the city is in one of St. Johns County's mandatory evacuation zones. An overnight curfew was lifted at 6 a.m. (Scroll down for details).
A local contractor who helped rebuild many St. Augustine buildings after Hurricane Irma said Wednesday morning that it looked like the city would be mostly spared this time.
"I don't like getting work at other people's expense," he said Wednesday morning.
As News4Jax surveyed the Historic District later in the day and it did not appear that water got into any bayfront restaurants and bars that got swamped in the previous hurricanes.
Curfew, evacuation orders rescinded for Zones A & B in St. Augustine
A curfew was in effect for Zones A and B in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. after the county ordered evacuations for Zones A and B, as well as low-lying areas, including Hastings and Flagler Estates. Residents living aboard boats and those living in RVs, mobile homes and manufactured homes throughout St. Johns County were also included in the evacuation order.
But effective 3 p.m. Wednesday, St. Johns County rescinded the curfew and mandatory evacuation order. Residents were encouraged to drive with caution as isolated areas may still have standing water, causing them to be impassable and possibly restricted by emergency services.
With the evacuation order lifted, all emergency shelters will also begin demobilization efforts at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
Additionally, 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 and St. Johns County Schools -- will reopen on Friday.
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