Jacksonville Beach residents look to recover after 2nd hurricane in 1 year

Jacksonville's beaches urge caution during Hurricane Irma cleanup

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor, News4Jax.com Staff

Tree topples in Oceanwalk area of Atlantic Beach

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - As residents in Jacksonville's beach communities begin surveying and cleaning up the damage left by Hurricane Irma, officials warned Tuesday that some trees might still fall because of saturated soil.

They warned residents to be careful as they begin pick up up after the storm.

In Jacksonville Beach, people said they’re just burned out. Hurricane Irma impacted the area less than 11 months after Hurricane Matthew.

For the second time in less than a year, Rick and Cathy Halter had their personal items on the sidewalk after they were flooded. They said they're trying to stay positive because Irma wasn't as bad as Matthew.

Hurricane Irma flooded their home, damaging or destroying countless items. But Matthew left even worse damage.

For a moment, the couple said, the thought of two hurricanes damaging their home was overwhelming. But then Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham stopped by to show his support.

"I'm out here today working, here comes Charlie down the street. He comes walking up and he says, 'I'm really sorry that this happened to you,'" Rick Halter said. "I said, 'I know, Charlie, if you could've stopped it, you would've.' It's just unfortunate. We will get through it."

The Halters said the repairs inside their home have already begun.

Bradley and Jenny Cook are relieved they boarded up their home and evacuated Saturday. The next day, a tree crashed into their home as Hurricane Irma approached and a nor'easter soaked Jacksonville Beach.

"I was on the phone with my wife and the news was on Channel 4 and I was, like, 'That’s my house. They are there. That’s my house,'" Bradley Cook said. "And the fire department showed up and they thought someone was inside."

But no one was inside. He and his wife returned Monday night to find extensive damage --  including a gaping hole in the kitchen roof that stretches into the living room, water on the floor and tree branches everywhere. 

"There is no doubt I would’ve been sitting in the chair watching TV, watching the news, whatever, and having that crash behind me, on me," Bradley Cook said. "Looking at that, it was a lot."

Now the Cooks are in recovery mode with the help of friends, chopping up what's left of the tree that damaged the home. They hope the damage, which occurred during the nor'easter not Hurricane Irma, can be repaired.

The bridges over the Intracoastal Waterway into the beaches reopened about 6 p.m. Monday, allowing residents who had evacuated to head home for the first time since Irma barreled through the Northeast Florida area.

Jacksonville Beach

Latham posted to Facebook on Monday, congratulating his city on surviving its third hurricane in 13 months.

“Although some homes and businesses may have been damaged, thank God there were no deaths or serious injuries,” Latham said, as he thanked city employees and their families for bearing the burden of keeping the city safe and beginning the recovery effort.

City Hall in Jacksonville Beach will be closed Tuesday to recover from some light damage and equipment failure, but will reopen Wednesday, Latham said.

Garbage, recycling and regular bulky items will be picked up as regularly scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Monday’s scheduled trash will be picked up on Wednesday. Monday's recycling, and bulky items will be picked up next Monday. No yard waste will be picked up this week. This schedule is subject to change and/or delays due to landfill availability, which has been impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Atlantic Beach

Garbage pickup in Atlantic Beach is pushed back a day this week, so if a resident's regular pickup day is Monday, their pickup day would be Tuesday.

“Please be patient with our garbage contractor, who naturally may otherwise be delayed getting to your house this week, as there is lots of debris and some roads remain impassable,” Atlantic Beach officials said in a Facebook post.

If you have questions for City Hall, you can ask them on Facebook, email khogencamp@coab.us or call 904-247-5804.

Neptune Beach

Beginning Tuesday a contractor will remove yard debris from the hurricane. It should be placed unbagged in piles curbside. Debris pick up will begin immediately. Waste Pro will resume trash service on regularly scheduled days.

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.