Hurricane Dorian Live Blog: Dorian to "move dangerously close" to the coast. Jacksonville close to flooding, curfew in St. Johns, Nassau counties – The Florida Times-Union

Tuesday 9:45 p.m.

Although Hurricane Dorian is expected to stay off-shore as a Category 2 when it heads north Wednesday, northwest Jacksonville resident Katherine Hughes still expressed concern about the storm.

“I have a lot of trees in my yard, and you do what you have to do,’’ Hughes said.

What she did was take shelter at the Legends Center on Soutel Drive Tuesday to wait out the storm. She came with blankets and pillows just like in 2017 when she took shelter at the same facility for Hurricane Irma.

Rashard Williams thought it would be good to wait out the storm at the shelter, too, with his grandmother. He said the anticipation of the hurricane disrupted his week, but he has no regrets about sleeping on cots at the facility instead of his bed at home.

Officials at the Oceanway Middle School shelter declined to give a total of evacuees but they were still checking in people after 8 p.m., Tuesday. They appeared to have had more than 30 people resting on cots.

TUESDAY 8 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center’s latest advisory warned that Hurricane Dorian will “move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast tonight through Wednesday night.” The First Coast is still not directly in the forecast cone, but just barely.

The center of hurricane is about 100 miles away from the coast of Florida.

The center also forecasts that the hurricane, which is currently moving at a pace of about six miles per hour, will speed up tonight.

Local officials, like the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, are urging residents to stay off the road.

Hunker Down, folks. Now is the time to shelter in place. Hurricane Dorian is headed to Jacksonville. Be safe.

Call 911 if you have a emergency.

Bridges will likely close TONIGHT.#HurricaneDorian#Dorian

— Jax Sheriff’s Office (@JSOPIO)September 3, 2019

TUESDAY 7:50 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian should not have the same devastating storm surge that hurt Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma, The Florida Times-Union’s Chris Hong reports.

“This is not an Irma-type of flood scenario,” said Angie Enyedi of the National Weather Service.

 

TUESDAY 7:25 p.m.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly released a video update for residents. In it he addresses a mandatory 7 p.m. curfew for evacuation zones A, B and F.

“We don’t want you to become a victim of Hurricane Dorian,” he said.

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Here’s a list of counties with curfews in effect across Jacksonville.

 

TUESDAY 6:40 p.m.

Rain and strong winds from Hurricane Dorian will arrive to Northeast Florida late Tuesday night and will last until Wednesday evening, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist who spoke at a press conference held by Jacksonville officials Tuesday evening.

The hurricane has begun moving northwest, albeit slowly, and it has weakened to a Category 2 storm, said Angie Enyedi of the National Weather Service. Enyedi said rain bands and winds between 35 to 45 mph should arrive starting midnight.

Mayor Lenny Curry said during the press conference that the bridges to the Beaches will likely close tonight when sustained wind speeds reach 40 mph. He urged residents in evacuation zones to immediately leave if they were having doubts about their decision to stay — and for everyone to immediately settle in for Dorian’s arrival.

“In short, be in place, shelter in place,” Curry said. “If you have last minute preparations, they need to be done right now.”

Sheriff Mike Williams said there isn’t a set time when police will close bridges. Instead, they will do so when winds reach 40 miles per hour for at least one minute. Once police close bridges, he said they will likely remain closed for “ the duration of the storm event.”

Aaron Zahn, the CEO of JEA, said the utility will have 500 electrical workers and 400 wastewater workers on standby starting Wednesday morning to respond to the storm. He said workers will first restore power and water to high priority locations, like hospitals and police stations, when wind speeds decrease enough to safely do so. Then, they will repair major circuits that will restore power to the most number of homes.

Enyedi said the worst conditions from the storm will last from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. She said areas along the coast will be hit hardest.

Sustained winds in areas east of I-95 will be between 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 65 mph. She said there’s also a threat of flash flooding and dangerous surf near the beach, which will build to 15 to 20 feet during the worst of the storm.

“That will be the main danger,” she said. “The surf will be really damaging and battering.”

Areas further inland will likely experience wind speeds between 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph, Enyedi said.

TUESDAY 5:15 P.M.

Memorial Hospital is asking patients and visitors to only use the emergency room entrance, and it’s asking that only one visitor arrive per patient, effective 7 p.m. tonight.

“Our goal is to keep everyone safe and well throughout the peak impact of this storm,” said Memorial’s CEO Bradley S. Talbert in a news release. “Rest easy and stay safe during the storm. We believe in caring for our patients like family. Know that your loved ones will be in good hands until the storm passes and you can once again visit safely.”

Memorial wants to use a single entrance because it allows the hospital to “be aware of everyone within the facility during critical weather events in order to ensure their safety.”

The news release said security officers will be stationed at the women’s entrance to assist any pregnant mothers in labor.

 

TUESDAY 5:07 p.m.

Officials in Nassau County urged residents to be in their “safe place” by 6 p.m. during a news conference they held on Tuesday afternoon.

Sheriff Bill Leeper said a curfew will go into effect 8 p.m. Tuesday night and will be lifted 7 a.m. Wednesday. The mandatory evacuations for residents in zones A, C and F remain in place. He said both of the county’s shelters have 95 openings available.

“We want to remind citizens that this storm remains to be a danger,” he said. “Expect rain, wind, surf, surge. Everyone needs to take care and remain safe.”

TUESDAY 4:47 P.M.

Parts of Jacksonville are already experiencing some flooding. Downtown is “near flood stage,” according to the National Weather Service, while Pottsburg Creek at Beach Boulevard has already gotten to minor flooding.

Tide gauge in the St. Johns River at the Main Street Bridge. Already near minor flood stage.pic.twitter.com/ZNgxD9Mj9E

— Nate Monroe (@NateMonroeTU)September 3, 2019

 

TUESDAY 4:44 P.M.

Nassau County has a county-wide curfew from 8 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. Wednesday.

All county offices will remain closed until Friday, and the evacuation order remains in effect.

Nassau County Director of Emergency Management Greg Foster said in a news release that residents should stay in place during the curfew and focus on their safety.

The county won’t lift the evacuation order until law enforcement and emergency management officials assess the damage. Schools are expected to re-open Friday.

 

TUESDAY, 4:42 P.M.

Red Cross officials said the general population shelter at Mandarin Middle School has 37 evacuees and two dogs.

For evacuee Yolanda Chisolm, it is her first time staying in a shelter since she was a teenager in South Carolina when Hurricane Hugo hit that state in 1989.

Chisolm arrived at Mandarin Middle School on Monday and plans to remain there until possibly Thursday depending on what Hurricane Dorian does.

“I’ll be glad when it’s over really,’’ Chisolm said. “But I feel much safer here than if I had stayed in my apartment. I’ve been keeping up with storm on my phone. It’s so huge.’’

TUESDAY, 4:11 P.M.

St. Johns County officials urged residents to remember that all of the First Coast will not be hit the same.

“What happens in St Johns County isn’t necessarily what happens in Flagler, Clay or Duval,” St. Johns County Administrator Michael Wanchick said during a 4 p.m. briefing. He said he’s very concerned about the low-lying parts of the county and the coastal areas.

Paul Waldron, chairman of the St. Johns Board of County Commissioners, urged people to either evacuate now or prepare to bunker down. “As it progresses through tomorrow. Please, if you’re home, stay home. If you’re going to evacuate, now’s the time to do it.”

Meanwhile, St. Johns Sheriff David Shoar said while a curfew is in effect between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., his deputies will use appropriate discretion on how to enforce it, but it’s important for residents to not take unnecessary risks.

“Curfew is there to keep people home or off the streets. We’re going to use common sense with it because we know not all situations are the same,” he said. As an example, he pointed to the necessity for reporters to keep working during the storm. “”Like the media, you all are going to be moving around during the storm which is vitally needed.”

 

TUESDAY, 3:40 P.M.

A curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. will take effect tonight in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach and evacuation zones A and B of St. Johns County.

The county’s emergency management office tweeted an announcement that law enforcement in the three areas had worked with county Administrator Michael Wanchick on an executive order signed Tuesday.

People on the street in the curfew areas can be required to produce identification so police can check their reason for being in the area. The requirement is meant to reduce looting and protect people in the evacuated areas, the agency said.

 

TUESDAY, 3:15 P.M.

Duval County public schools will remain closed through Thursday, the school system said Tuesday.

Football games scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday are being rescheduled. A list is posted on the school system website.

Twelve-month employees are expected to report to work Thursday to help prepare the buildings to reopen.

Putnam County schools also said Tuesday afternoon they would be closed through Thursday.

 

TUESDAY, 3:05 P.M.

Clay County’s evacuation order for people in low-lying areas and Evacuation Zones A and B (along the St. Johns River and Doctors Lake) took effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The evacuation order will stay in effect until tropical storm warnings are canceled and tidal surge and winds that are expected to arrive Wednesday morning have decreased.

 

TUESDAY, 2:35 P.M.

Every Gate store in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties has closed because of Hurricane Dorian’s approach, the company said Tuesday over Twitter.

The closures were effective “until further notice,” the tweet said.

 

TUESDAY, 2:23 P.M.

Water levels are expected to be 4 to 7 feet higher than normal when Hurricane Dorian’s storm surge reaches Northeast Florida, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the center said in a 2 p.m. advisory that described the surge as a “danger of life-threatening inundation.”

Water levels could rise well before strong winds take hold, the advisory said, and predicted rainfall of just 3 to 6 inches along most of the Florida coast, up to 9 inches in spots.

The 4-to-7 foot projection applied to water from  Flagler County’s southern end to Cape Lookout, N.C. A 3-to-5 foot surge was projected from the Flagler-Volusia county line to Jupiter Inlet.

 

Tuesday, 1:50 P.M.

Ascension St. Vincent’s medical centers in Riverside, Clay County and Jacksonville’s Southside will close to visitors at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the hospital said.

“This is our standard precaution during a significant weather event such as a hurricane,” said an Ascension spokesman. “Our emergency departments and inpatient care will remain fully open for patients.”

The centers will reopen to visitors when Hurricane Dorian has passed.

 

TUESDAY, 1:37 P.M.

St. Johns County’s schools and school district offices will be closed at least through Thursday, the county’s emergency management office said Tuesday. No decision has been made about opening on Friday.

 

TUESDAY, 1:12 P.M.

Camden County, Ga. has set a 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew for areas under a mandatory evacuation east of Interstate 95.

An announcement from the county said “increased law enforcement presence and enhanced enforcement will occur during the curfew. Individuals can expect to be checked if they are traveling in the mandatory evacuation area east of I-95.”

The curfew is meant to protect property of people evacuating because of the storm, the announcement said.

 

TUESDAY, 1:05 P.M.

Neptune Beach has doubled its normal police staffing and has officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helping in advance of Hurricane Dorian, the agency tweeted Tuesday.

“Public safety remains our top priority,” the agency said above a photo of a list of hurricane rules.

Among those: curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.; alcohol sales suspended since Monday night; beach closed because of “life-threatening surf and rip currents;” Zones A and B evacuations still in effect; and stay off the dunes, which the message called “our best defense against large waves/storm surge.”

 

TUESDAY, 12:40 P.M.

Encouraging news about Hurricane Dorian’s path may have caused several people to leave one of Jacksonville’s emergency shelters by midday Tuesday.

As of noon, 111 people had registered at the shelter at Landmark Middle School, but five of those had departed again, Red Cross volunteers said.

Volunteer Nita Wells said that they apparently heard news reports that the hurricane would spare Jacksonville the worst and decided to go home.

“We would rather they stayed,” she said. “But we can’t make them.”

 

TUESDAY, 12:26 P.M.

Even without making landfall, Hurricane Dorian is still expected to beat up the First Coast’s oceanfront, the National Weather Service said over Twitter.

“We’re anticipating SUBSTANTIAL impacts along the coastline from LIFE THREATENING storm surge and DANGEROUS waves and breakers,” the service said in a tweet that projected “battering waves” of 8 to 12 feet Tuesday and 15-25 feet Wednesday.

Erosion is already occurring and conditions will deteriorate through the day, an overview included in the message said.

Storm surge is expected along both Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia coastlines, and flooding is possible along the St. Johns River, it added.

 

TUESDAY, 11:55 A.M.

There were short lines and absolutely no storm mania at the Neptune Beach Pubilx, where there was still a big shipment of bottled water that, a few days ago, would have been bought out in no time. The disinterest was evident barely an hour after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry warned to expect “major impacts” from Hurricane Dorian and urged residents to evacuate vulnerable areas.

 

TUESDAY: 11:30 A.M.

Some businesses in San Marco were boarding up Tuesday, and sandbags were stacked outside some homes in the perennially flooded neighborhood.

Bank of America closed its branches in San Marco, as well as branches in Mandarin and on University Blvd near Phillips Highway in advance of Hurricane Dorian’s effects.

 

TUESDAY 10:43 A.M.

“We will feel major impacts from this storm,” Mayor Lenny Curry said at a Tuesday morning briefing. “There will be life-threatening waves. … Please stay off the beach.”

Despite forecasts saying the storm will stay offshore, “this is no time to rest and think that everything  is going to be OK,” the mayor said. “This is still a very serious storm.”

Jacksonville Transportation Authority service will stop at 1 p.m. Tuesday, with drivers shifting to operating evacuation runs. Paratransit drivers will operate as long as it’s safe, Curry said.

“For you and your families’ safety, please leave today,” Curry told people in evacuation areas. “This is your last chance to evacuate.”

 

TUESDAY 10:29 A.M.

Clay County officials are continuing preparations to open evacuation shelters later Tuesday.

A special needs shelter will open at noon at Lake Asbury Junior High, 2851 Sandridge Rd, Green Cove Springs.

General population shelters will open at 3 p.m. at Clay High School, 2025 State Road 16 in Green Cove Springs; Wilkinson Elementary, 4965 County Road 218 in Middleburg; Orange Park High School, 2300 Kingsley Ave. in Orange Park; and Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High, 900 Orchid Ave. in Keystone Heights. Orange Park High and Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High are pet-friendly shelters.

 

TUESDAY 10:18 A.M.

Despite a hurricane watch, Tuesday morning in Atlantic Beach seemed like just about any other August day, though more pleasant and with higher surf. In scattered conversations there was no discussion of anyone evacuating, now that forecasts have improved. High tide, which could reach the dunes, was still several hours away.

Thank God, Steve Bass said, for the spaghetti models and the cone of uncertainty – or, as he calls it, the “cone of confusion.”

Tuesday’s forecasts showed Jacksonville Beaches untouched by either of those forecasting predictions, which definitely seemed to be leading to sighs of relief along the oceanfront. People agreed: Perhaps now the local effects of Hurricane Dorian will just be a strong nor’easter, and the dunes might get just a little beat up, yet remain standing.

And the beach towns will live to survive until the next threatening storm.

Tuesday morning was just like many weekday August mornings, though the weather was more pleasant and the surf considerably larger. At beach access points where residents gather, there was little talk of evacuating, not at this point, not with the good forecasts.

Parents and children rode down on bikes and made their way to the sand, staying a good bit away from the churning surf, and joggers and walkers went up and the beach, as is usual.

Bass, who lives in a condo just yards from the oceanfront, said at one point, during early forecasts, he was thinking of leaving. “I don’t want to be that guy hanging on the roof, and everybody’s saying, ‘Hey stupid,’ ” he said.

He’s planning to stay where he is now, feeling relieved. But give a thought, he urged, to the Bahamas. “We’re seeing some really horrific stories out there,” he said. “It’s just been heartbreaking.”

TUESDAY 9:17 A.M.

Nassau County has closed all of its sandbag stations, the county reported Tuesday.

About 51,000 bags, containing 1,550 tons of sand, had been distributed since they opened last week.

 

TUESDAY 9:05 A.M.

Hurricane relief fund set up for First Coast

Some leading Jacksonville-area charities are re-activating a relief fund to help meet costs of hurricane recovery.

Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund will make grants to organizations helping people impacted by natural disaster in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. It will provide resources to meet needs not covered by insurance, FEMA, or other state and federal programs.

United Way of Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund set up the fund in 2016, after Hurricane Matthew.

After Hurricane Irma in 2017, donors gave $3.79 million, which ended up going to 34 organizations credited with helping about 250,000 people or households. About $240,000 remain in the fund.

The contribute or apply for funding, go to unitedwaynefl.org/relief-fund.

 

8:36 A.M.

Mail service canceled

The Postal Service has suspended mail delivery in Jacksonville because of Hurricane Dorian.

Delivery and retail operations were stopped Tuesday in Zip codes beginning in 313,314,315, 320 and 322. Post offices in Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Mayport Naval Station, St Augustine, Anastasia Island, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fernandina Beach and a number of Georgia locations were closed.

“At this time, normal operations are expected to resume on Wednesday,” a Postal Service release said.

For older posts, see Monday’s live blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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