Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said although it’s too early to tell how Category 5 Hurricane Irma could affect Northeast Florida, residents need to prepare for a potential direct hit.
Curry met with emergency management officials Tuesday afternoon before saying residents shouldn't panic, but they should plan potential evacuation routes and stock up on supplies for a hurricane kit.
“Pray that this thing falls apart for everyone, but prepare as though it won't,” he said. “Your city’s preparing. You need to prepare yourself and your families for the possibility of an event.”
He said everyone should go to JaxReady.com to look up their evacuation zones and get suggestions on what to buy for their hurricane kits.
Curry said he’s met with the city’s Public Works Department, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and other agencies including the Jacksonville Electric Authority. JEA CEO Paul McElroy said his team is ready for whatever the storm brings.
Thousands were left without power for days after Hurricane Matthew hit nearly year ago.
“We have well over 300 additional generators on site, both mobile and fixed, and right now we have people in the field starting those, making sure they’re prepared to go in the event we’re flooded,” he said.
The mayor said if Irma affects the First Coast similarly to how Matthew did, the city has adequate financial reserves, but if the storm is catastrophic, the budget would have to be reprioritized.
“Safety comes first,” Curry said. “If we ever had to realign priorities in an emergency situation, we would do just that.”
Curry said he’ll hold regular briefings as the path of Hurricane Irma becomes clearer. Download the Florida Storms app for real-time weather alerts, evacuation information and more.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.