Residents loading sandbags as Hurricane Irma looms

Florida residents urged to prepare for Hurricane Irma

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter , Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter , News4Jax.com Staff

With the possibility of Hurricane Irma causing severe weather and flooding in the area, people are encouraged to begin preparing for the storm’s potential impact.

Palm Coast was the first community to offer sandbags, but  their supply was gone within hours of announcing Wednesday that they were available. Sand is still available to people who can provide their own bags. (Full list of locations at bottom of this story.)

Crowds were waiting as St. Johns County began distributing sandbags from six locations at noon Wednesday. Crowds were back Wednesday morning, but word came just after 11 a.m. the county had run out of bags. News4Jax is trying to learn if the county will be getting more.

The sand and the bags were provided free of charge. Residents must provide their own transportation and shovels and will be responsible for filling their own bags. There is a maximum allocation of 20 bags per person. 

"Some people wanted to keep digging, so I was just opening up bags for them," Cindy Foss said. "Some people are kind of new at this here and Fruit Cove, so (we've) just been helping each other."

Locations of sandbag distribution in St. Johns:

  • Windswept Acres Park - 5335 State Road A1A South
  • Sims Pit - 536 S. Holmes Blvd.
  • Town of Hastings Town Hall - 6195 S. Main Street, behind the building
  • Mills Field - 1805 Racetrack Road, in the overflow parking area
  • Palm Valley - under the Palm Valley Bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway
  • North Beach Park – 3721 Coastal Highway, at the walkover

The sand and bags are available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily throughout the duration of the inclement weather event. For additional information, please call 904-824-5550.

The city of St. Augustine started providing sandbags Thursday at 8 a.m. at Francis Field on West Castillo Drive, but ran out of sand by 11:30 p.m. The sand and the bags are free of charge and up to 20 bags per person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day until the supply is gone or the weather deteriorates until it is unsafe to continue.

Members of the public must provide their own transportation and shovels, and are responsible for filling their own bags. Vehicles should enter Francis Field from the west off Riberia Street and follow directions. For additional information, please call 904-825-1010.

Because Duval County does not provide sandbags, city officials urged residents to buy sandbags early to avoid the rush. It is also recommended that you call each store ahead of time before you make the drive.

Lowe’s Home Improvement at 12945 Atlantic Blvd. had a large supply of sandbags Tuesday morning, and after purchasing (71 cents each), customers can head to the back of the store to get them filled. Lowe's doesn't know how long the supplies will last. 

Eye on the Storm header

The Ace Hardware stores on Arlington Road and Marsh Landing were sold out of sandbags Tuesday, but both expected shipments Thursday.

Sandbags can be purchased at the following locations at Jacksonville Beach:

  • Turner Hardware – 784 Marsh Landing Parkway (Currently out of stock. Will restock Thursday)
  • Home Depot - 3790 3rd Street S., Jacksonville Beach (Store has sand and bags, but not pre-filled)
  • The city of Jacksonville does not offer sandbags

In Atlantic Beach, a limited quantity of sand will be available for Atlantic Beach residents at the Jack Russell Park skate park beginning at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, but bags that were available at City Hall were gone by 11:30 a.m. 

Clay County announced it will begin distributing sandbags at noon on Thursday at five locations:

  • Middleburg Fire Station - 4003 Everett Ave.
  • Fleming Island Fire Station - 5995 Pine Ave.
  • Orange Park Fire Station - 2025 Smith Street
  • Green Cove Springs Public Works Yard - 900 Gum Street
  • Keystone Heights City Hall - 555 South Lawrence Blvd.

No sandbag distribution has been announced in Neptune Beach, but the city will alert residents via its Code Red Emergency system when it does. The city is asking residents to download the app so they can get updates.

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

Thursday and Friday mornings, Jax Gravel at 8928 Normandy Boulevard was making sand available to anyone who had their own bags and shovel.

Flagler County and the city of Palm Coast will have sand available at several areas throughout the county. Sandbags are available in some locations with orders expected to arrive within the next couple of days. 

Residents will need to bring their own shovels for filling bags -- and bags at the present time -- as the materials are being provided for self-service during daylight hours.

“We are working diligently to prepare for Hurricane Irma, and part of that is doing what we can to help residents protect their property,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “Supplies are limited, so we ask that only those people who live in areas where flooding will most likely occur.”

Flagler County will provide sand and bags at the following three locations: 

  • Fire Station 71, 89 E. County Road 2006, western Flagler County 
  • Fire Station 41, 5593 N. Oceanshore Boulevard, in the Hammock. 
  • Fire Station 92, at the Flagler Executive Airport, 201 Airport Road.

Those who have their own bags, can fill up to 20 bags with sand. When bags are available, residents will be limited to 10 bags.

Sand is also available through the city of Palm Coast and bags are expected to be delivered within the next couple of days at these locations: 

  • Palm Coast Public Works Yard, 1 Wellfield Grade, off U.S. 1 just north of Palm Coast Parkway, Palm Coast.
  • Holland Park, 18 Florida Park Drive, Palm Coast
  • Indian Trails Sports Complex, 5455 Belle Terre Pkwy., Palm Coast
  • Seminole Woods Neighborhood Park, 350 Sesame Blvd., Palm Coast

Beginning Wednesday, Putnam County Department of Public Works said, sand will be placed for self-service use by residents at the following locations:

  • East River Road & Putnam County Boulevard Base Ball Field, 223 Putnam County Blvd., East Palatka
  • Chesser Pit, 145 W. Washington St., Interlachen
  • Huntington Pit, 1553 C.R. 308, Crescent City

Columbia County will distribute sandbags Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at three locations:

  • Columbia County Public Works, 607 NW Quinten St., Lake City, FL 32055 (Elderly Assistance at this location only)
  • Columbia County Fairgrounds, 438 FL-247, Lake City, FL 32055
  • Ft. White Community Center, 17579 FL-47, Fort White, FL 32038

Columbia County officials said bags will be provided, however, people will need to fill the bags with sand. Sand and shovels will be provided onsite. 

Click here to view Bradford County Department of Emergency Management's sandbag distribution information. 

Sand and bags will be available in Alachua County beginning Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Wayside Park located at 11855 NW US Highway 441, Gainesville, 32653 (park area in front of Public Works). Please be prepared to fill your own bags. Staff will be on hand for those that need assistance.

News4Jax will update this list as more information is released. 

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