ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – As Tropical Storm Nicole churns closer to Florida, voluntary evacuations began Wednesday morning for coastal areas of St. Johns County.
People who live in the city of St. Augustine and the city of St. Augustine Beach and those in flood-prone areas on waterfront property in mobile homes and RVs are encouraged to find somewhere else to stay.
The message was simple: if you had flooding during Ian, expect flooding from Nicole.
Flooding was already causing issues along the Downtown St. Augustine bayfront as water poured over the seawall Wednesday morning.
St. Johns County will open two shelters starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The county is prepared to open additional shelters as needed. The following shelters will be open 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
While shelters provide safety throughout the storm, residents must bring supplies to maintain personal comfort and sustenance. St. Johns County recommends that all evacuees bring their own bedding, including sleeping bags or air mattresses, pillows, sheets and blankets. A five-day supply of water, nonperishable food, medication, diapers and other personal items are also suggested. Refer to the list below for additional supply suggestions:
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
Sand and bags are 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
Residents must provide their transportation and shovels and are responsible for filling their bags. There is a maximum allocation of 20 bags per person.
Multiple people showed up Tuesday at the sandbag location at North Beach Park in Vilano Beach, where storm surge caused problems weeks ago.
Many of those people were from St. Augustine and areas of Vilano Beach that experienced flooding and other wind-related impacts during the nor’easter last year and Ian this year. People are now hoping this storm won’t do significant damage, but it is expected to be a threat to coastal areas.
People we spoke with say they’re not taking any chances after Ian.
St. Augustine resident H.A. Smith explained why they were picking up sandbags.
“During really high tide the neighborhood gets water in the streets,” Smith said. “Over along the front of my driveway because water comes rushing up the street when it comes.”
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The Historic Downtown Parking Facility will be free starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday for residents living in low-lying, flood-prone areas who are seeking higher ground for their vehicles. Residents should plan to retrieve their vehicles once the storm passes, and it is safe to return home.
For additional information, please call the Historic Downtown Parking Facility, at 904-484-5160.