All three Duval County beach communities are under local states of emergency as powerful Hurricane Irma tracks toward Florida and officials for the three cities anticipate a mandatory evacuation will be ordered on Friday.
At 9:30 a.m. Friday, Mayor Lenny Curry was joined by the mayors of all three beach communities to announced a mandatory evacuation for Zones A and B -- which includes all of the barrier islands and areas adjacent to all waterways -- for Saturday. The city also announced opening of 13 shelters.
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Residents with the means and ability to evacuate the beach cities were encouraged to leave as soon as possible as traffic is already heavy on major interstates. Congestion is expected to get worse going into the weekend.
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said all three beach cities are establishing a 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. curfew starting Saturday and continuing until further notice. Alcohol sales will be terminated at 6 p.m. Saturday until further notice. The beach/ocean will close 10 a.m. Saturday until further notice.
Latham said shelters will open at 10 a.m. Friday, and a listing of shelters will be available then.
The bridges over the Intracoastal Waterway are expected to close when wind speeds become too high.
Jaxready.com has shelter info, flood zones and useful preparations tips.
Latham said there are no plans to secure electricity, sewage or water. But Latham said if there is damage or threat of damage to any system, it may be shut down out of operational necessity.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry urged residents to follow the city's lead and prepare now for Irma, have a plan in place, know their flood and evacuation zones, and have their hurricane survival kit stocked.
Mayor Mitch Reeves and City Manager Joe Gerrity issued a state-of-emergency proclamation at 4 p.m. Wednesday as a result of the potentially damaging winds, heavy rains and storm surge that are forecast. A decision regarding mandatory evacuations and shelters, which will be made based on the storm’s movement and anticipated impact, is forthcoming.
Additionally in Atlantic Beach:
- A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be in effect beginning Saturday and ending Tuesday.
- The beach will be closed beginning 10 a.m. Saturday until further notice.
- Alcohol sales in the city will be prohibited between 9 a.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Tuesday.
- Most City of Atlantic Beach-hosted and events scheduled for the next week have been canceled.
- Police Chief Michelle Cook and other city officials are in continuous dialogue with Duval County emergency preparedness officials and our Beaches partner cities.
Meanwhile, Atlantic Beach residents are asked to be aware of the following:
- This is the time to review your hurricane plan with your family. For information on hurricane preparedness, visit www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.
- Re-entry passes are no longer issued in the event of a mandatory evacuation. Rather, state-issued IDs with Atlantic Beach addresses, or other documentations demonstrating Atlantic Beach residency or business ownership, may be required for re-entry.
- Atlantic Beach public works crews are installing shutters on critical city buildings, clearing storm drains, and pumping down retention ponds.
- Catamarans and other vessels, lifeguard chairs and garbage cans are being removed from the beach.
- Floridians are urged to use Florida's 511 Traveler Information System which provides real-time traffic and travel updates on all of Florida's interstates and toll roads, and other major metropolitan roadways.
When evacuations are lifted, the three Intracoastal Waterway bridges will be opened at the same time.
Police Commander Mike Key said mandatory evacuations are expected but when they will be called has not yet been determined.
Public services, including police, might not be available if residents ignore a mandatory evacuation order.
Re-entry passes will not be issued. Residents who evacuate should bring identification or paperwork that shows their Neptune beach address.
A 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will be in place when mandatory evacuation orders are issued, and alcohol sales will be halted at that time.
Officials expect a significant amount of debris and tree damage from the storm.
Garbage pickup will continue until Friday.
No evacuations are scheduled, but if Irma keeps this track, Latham expects mandatory evacuation orders for all the beaches Friday morning.
Latham said Jacksonville Beach, along with the other two beach cities, are establishing a 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. curfew starting Saturday and continuing until further notice. Alcohol sales will be terminated at 6 p.m. Saturday until further notice. The beach/ocean will close 10 a.m. Saturday until further notice.
The bridges will close when the winds reach 40 mph sustained. That will likely start Saturday night if the forecast stays the same or similar to Thursday's.
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY: Latest Hurricane Irma info for Jacksonville | Jacksonville's beaches | St. Johns County | Clay County | Nassau County | Flagler County | Putnam County | Inland First Coast counties | Georgia counties
First responders and the mayor will eventually leave the beaches and stage at UNF for the worst of it.
The mayor wants people to check official sources like the news and City Hall for info, because there are lots of rumors swirling around. There are NO plans to shut off power or water at the beach as of now.
Duval County schools closing
Public schools will dismiss early Thursday and be closed Friday and Monday. No decision has been made yet about when students will return to classes after the hurricane passes.
The early release schedule will follow normal early dismissal times for individual schools. All after-school events and extended day care are also canceled Friday and Monday.
The district moved all varsity football games to Thursday night and canceled JV and other athletic events.
For a list of all area schools closing, click here.
Sandbags can be purchased at the following locations at Jacksonville Beach:
- Turner Hardware – 784 Marsh Landing Parkway
- Home Depot - 3790 3rd Street S., Jacksonville Beach (Store has sand and bags, but not pre-filled)
- The city does not offer sandbags
In Atlantic Beach, a limited quantity of sand were available for Atlantic Beach residents but bags were gone by 11:30 a.m.
Sandbag distribution in Neptune Beach also ran out of sandbags.
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