Jacksonville in 'rescue' and 'assessment' mode, post-Irma - Florida Politics

Jacksonville in ‘rescue’ and ‘assessment’ mode, post-Irma

As Jacksonville policy makers struggle to deal with the consequences of a historic hurricane, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry noted Monday afternoon that the city is still in “rescue” mode.

“A Cat 3 surge and Tropical Storm conditions,” Curry said, has been unseen locally in 150 years.

“That’s why we gave people plenty of time to evacuate,” Curry said, “now here we are.”

The city, in large part because people in low-lying areas did not evacuate, is still in “rescue” mode.

And some don’t want to be rescued.

“If you were on the second floor today, and decided to wait out the [flooding],” Curry said, “flood waters are not going to recede” anytime soon.

Recovery from the storm comes later, as impacts are still being addressed from widespread wind damage and flooding.

And that flooding isn’t slated to abate for days in neighborhoods by the St. Johns River, such as Avondale, Riverside, and others, where rescues have been underway: 100 of them Monday at this writing.

The high tide may go down a foot over the next several hours; however, flooded streets by the river will still stay flooded over the next week.

On Monday, Curry witnessed “first-hand” rescues, noting that professionals are stepping up, but “neighbors helping neighbors” also.

That neighborly spirit will be needed over what Curry says could be a week-long event, one in which power restoration will be slow to come for the 250,000 in the dark, part of what Curry called a larger “strain on the entire state.”

“Professionals will bust their butts to get power back on,” Curry said.

JEA CEO Paul McElroy said that power restoration would be slow.

“Storm assessment,” McElroy said, is happening now along with cut and toss efforts from the city.

However, “even if we had clear access,” McElroy cautioned that the winds are just below 40 MPH.

Once the winds die down, JEA has 500 crew members ready to work in the field: vegetation experts and line workers, ready to go 16 hours a day.

Meanwhile, the beach communities are still evacuated, and city leaders cautioned that, while “working aggressively” to let residents back in, it has to happen in a “safe, orderly manner.”

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