ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – As Nicole got stronger and got closer to Florida on Wednesday night, people in coastal areas of St. Johns County started leaving on their own the next morning.
People who live in the city of St. Augustine, the city of St. Augustine Beach, and flood-prone areas on waterfront property in mobile homes and RVs are told to move. The message was simple: if you had flooding during Ian, you can expect flooding during Nicole.
Joe Giammanco, who is in charge of emergency management for St. Johns County, said, “If you are in a dangerous place, a low-lying area, or if you were flooded by Ian or the nor’easter last year, we want you to be safe and find shelter.”
Wednesday night, there was no one downtown. Before the storm hit, bars, restaurants, and shops all shut down. The doors and windows of River and Fort were covered with plywood and sandbags.
Eric Shaw works at the Tini Martini Bar, which is right next to the Matanzas River. “All we can do is hope it doesn’t come up above us. As long as it stays down there, we’ll be fine.” Shaw said, “The tables can float, but we don’t want that inside.”
However, flooding caused troubles along the Downtown St. Augustine bayfront when water spilled over the seawall on Wednesday morning. By the evening, the waters had retreated, but flooding had caused issues.
Around the vicinity of the Bridge of Lions on Avenida Menendez Street, the road was blocked up in both directions. Steve Goretskie, a resident, was quoted as saying “It’s a part of life. The aquatic organisms. If you truly love it, you will have to put up with it nonetheless.
Anthony Davis has made preparations to weather the storm on his yacht, which is 45 feet long and is docked at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Davis described the situation as “an emotional rollercoaster.” It’s normal to feel anxious or unsettled at times, but just remember that everything will turn out okay in the end.
He stated that his wife decided to ride out the storm in a motel that was located directly across the street. He didn’t seem concerned about the storm at all. He stated, “I’ve got the boat tied up extremely nicely” (I’ve had it secured well). “I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, so everything will be great,” the speaker said.
The Area Around Vilano Beach And Porpoise Point
Sandbag stacks were used to successfully reinforce a portion of State Road A1A in Vilano Beach, and the work was completed shortly after 6 p.m. The barrier that the rocks along the highway provided had been shattered by the crashing waves that came in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Dunes used to give protection against storm surges; however, in recent years, severe hurricanes and tropical storms have undermined that natural barrier, leaving less safety. A little distance up the road, came across several residents of Vilano Beach who were in the process of preparing sandbags as part of their last-ditch emergency measures.
One of the people who spoke to us said, “We’re simply trying to block off the front and rear entrances.” “The garage is cleaned by certain personnel, but there are a lot of extra bags right there,” they said.
The only thing that prevented water from flooding into the street from a beach access point during high tide in the Porpoise Point area was a hill made of sand that was fifteen feet tall. A wide flat area may be found hidden behind the hill, and it is covered in damp seaweed and debris that washed ashore during the most recent high tide.
The dunes that formerly served as a natural barrier against storm surges for the residences that were located along the beach and across the street have been wiped away by prior storms. The homeowners in question are named Steve and Amy Dove. They claimed that the fact that they do not have the protection of a natural barrier has forced them to accept the fact that they will have to put up with storm surges.
“When we went down here, we were fully aware of what we were getting ourselves into,” said Steve Dove. “I believe that at this point, we are in an upbeat mindset towards this.” Amy Dove expressed her relief to Ian by saying, “I’m just pleased I didn’t get rid of the sandbags from the previous hurricane.”
Shelters Open To The Public
St. Johns County opened two shelters Wednesday. The county was prepared to open additional shelters as needed. The following shelters were opened to the public:
Health and Human Services Department (Special medical needs) at 200 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine
Solomon Calhoun Community Center (General population and pet-friendly) at 1300 Duval Street in St. Augustine
Although storm shelters offer residents a safe place to wait out the storm, they nevertheless require them to carry their supplies to ensure their comfort and survival. The local government of St. Johns County strongly advises everyone who is being evacuated to carry their bedding with them.
This should include sleeping bags or air mattresses, pillows, sheets, and blankets. It is also recommended to include a supply of water, food that does not need to be refrigerated, medicine, diapers, and other personal necessities that will last for five days. Additional options for supplies might be found in the following list:
At least a five-day supply of medications, insulin and a cooler if you are diabetic
Personal grooming and hygiene items, feminine supplies
Extra clothing and eyeglasses
Books, magazines, cards, games, etc.
Pillows, blankets, sheets, lawn chair/chaise lounge
Flashlight and extra batteries, manual can opener
Personal identification/important papers
All St. Johns County government offices and facilities, including parks and libraries, will close at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 9. For additional information, please call the St. Johns County Emergency Management Citizen Information Line at 904.824.5550. pic.twitter.com/jhCNRSFEA3
— St. Johns Co EOC (@StJohnsEOC) November 8, 2022
Sand and bags were available for free at the following locations from 8 a.m. Wednesday until weather permits:
Windswept Acres Park – 5335 State Road A1A South
North Beach Park – 3721 Coastal Highway
Palm Valley – Underneath the Palm Valley Bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway
Multiple people showed up Tuesday at the sandbag location at North Beach Park in Vilano Beach, where a storm surge caused problems weeks ago.
The nor’easter from the previous year and Hurricane Ian from this year both brought floods and other wind-related devastation to parts of St. Augustine and Vilano Beach. A good number of those folks came from those locations.
People are currently keeping their fingers crossed that this storm won’t do any substantial damage, but it is anticipated that it will pose a threat to coastal locations. According to the individuals we’ve spoken with, after Ian, they won’t be taking any chances.
H.A. Smith, a citizen of St. Augustine, explained as to why they were gathering up sandbags.
According to Smith, “with exceptionally high tides, the neighbourhood will have water in the streets.” When it rains, water will be coming pouring up the street, so park along the front of my driveway.
Residents of low-lying, flood-prone regions who are looking for higher ground for their vehicles on Tuesday can park their cars for free at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility beginning at five o’clock in the evening. Once the storm has passed and it is safe for residents to come home, they should make plans to reclaim their automobiles.
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