A walk through Jacksonville’s Avondale neighborhood Monday morning revealed the destruction Hurricane Irma had wrought.
But even as the storm was headed out, more danger follows Monday afternoon, via record high tides.
Avondale, along with Riverside and Downtown, got the worst of the flooding; Avondale also got some of the most brutal winds, the kind that take out trees older than most of the human residents.
Downed trees knocked out stoplights in some places, power lines in more places, suggesting that restoration will be no easy fix.
A more immediate worry for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, and the city’s first responders: rescuing those who are in houses close to the river, houses under threat from a rising high tide coursing in from the St. Johns River into some of the most exclusive properties in the city.
We saw Curry and Mousa in a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office vehicle this morning, in between media briefings.
Curry’s priority: saving lives at this point, as the tide will sweep in this afternoon. Rescue efforts are underway for people who are stuck in properties subject to river rise.
And those rescue efforts, and restoration efforts, will be challenging operations — with coordination of local and state resources, including three teams -22 LEOs- of pre-staged FWC officers en route to Jacksonville areas where flooding is reported.
Time is of the essence in those cases. For those not fighting Irma’s last major high tide in Jacksonville, concerns are more quotidian, including power restoration; 259,000 JEA customers lacked electricity shortly after 11:30 a.m.
“Most of the state is without power right now,” Curry noted in the briefing.
But for those in flood-prone areas, such as San Marco, Avondale, Riverside, and others, it’s go time, Curry said, noting that he had ordered voluntary evacuations of these areas Wednesday.
The shelters, said Curry, are 20 percent full.
“We’ve got room,” Curry said.
“This is a Cat 3 type surge from a tropical storm,” Curry said, noting a 6 foot rise from normal water levels.
These are attributable to high tide and unprecedented rains from Irma. And full abatement will take a week.
The city will be closed through Tuesday, as the focus will be on recovery from the storm. The city’s helpline — 630-CITY — will be devoted to people who need rescue.
“We will keep you posted and updated,” Curry said.
“Let’s go take care of people.”