Jacksonville prepares to ‘pick up the pieces together’

The key quote came at the end: “We’re just going to pick up the pieces together as a community when we get out of this thing.”

Hurricane Matthew wreaked the bulk of its havoc in Duval County on Jacksonville’s beaches and in low-lying areas, as expected. As the storm blew northward, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry recapped the situation Friday evening.

Curry spoke to issues in a briefing.

“We are in the peak of the storm now,” Curry said, and “there is still life-threatening storm surge.”

Indeed, as of 5:50 p.m., tropical storm conditions still prevailed.

“You should not be out looking at the river, trying to take pictures [or] look for something exciting,” Curry said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help with flood recovery efforts, Curry added, with the fire and rescue department examining conditions as soon as weather permits.

2,300 people are still in shelters, as of Friday night.

The most high-profile damage known thus far: a loss of at least some of the Jacksonville Beach pier.

When asked by media if there had been storm related fatalities, Curry didn’t know.

What he does know: what happened is “the stuff we’ve been saying for days would happen.”

The fire and rescue department is out looking for issues already, and will move to the eastern part of the county as soon as it is safe.

Officers are already on the street, Williams said, in other areas.

The only bridge closed because of wind speed is the Dames Point; however, all bridges going from the city to the beach are closed pending a damage assessment, said Sheriff Mike Williams.

With “significant issues” at the beach, such as “lots of flooding” and “high wind,” Williams says “it will take some time to figure out” when people can return to the beach.

However, Williams cautioned, “don’t count on tomorrow.”

Regarding federal assistance, Curry said “we’ve got a plan” and “we’re working directly with them.”


Curry’s office also sent out an email specifying other issues.

A major concern: “Major Storm Surge Flooding with significant damage continues throughout the city. The Mayport tide gauge was at 5.22 ft. at 4 p.m. and is gradually rising toward the flooding category.”

Isolated tornadoes and waterspouts are still expected.

162,000 JEA customers are without power also, which will be a concern to address over the weekend; over 800 people will commit to the effort starting early in the morning, after the damage assessment.

However, the mode is shifting from mitigation to recovery.

A major question mark: the condition of Jacksonville Beach, where a piece of the pier broke off during the storm according to some sources, and flood waters coursed through streets closest to the ocean.

However, for Jacksonville, the advice is becoming more quotidian.

The mayor’s office urged people to be mindful of potential contamination issues from flood waters.

As well, advice for those with septic issues: if “you cannot use your plumbing without creating a sanitary nuisance (i.e. without sewage being exposed), consider moving to a new location until conditions improve.”

Likewise, citizens are warned not to use generators indoors, or to put gas grills in their fireplaces, as “these devices can increase the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide” when used inside.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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