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Jacksonville Mayor: Those In Flooded Areas Should Stay Put, 'Go Up, Not Out'

Jessica Palombo
A Jacksonville Fire and Rescue crew loads a family's pet cats into their boat outside a home in San Marco on Monday afternoon.

Mayor Lenny Curry is strongly encouraging Jacksonville residents and visitors to observe safety warnings as flood waters continue to rise in low-lying ares near the St. Johns River. 

After Hurricane Irma passed through the area overnight, rescue teams were busy helping people in evacuation zones get to safety at midday Monday. All of Northeast Florida remains under a Flash Flood Warning.

Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News
JTA buses stand by in San Marco Square to take rescued people to shelters on Monday afternoon.

Curry gave instructions for those who find themselves stranded to alert rescuers: 

“Please place what represents a white flag — anything white — somewhere on your house that can be viewed from outside. We have search and rescue teams ready to deploy," he said. 

Curry said the downtown flooding has already broken previous records set more than a century ago. High tide is expected to be 4-to-6 feet above normal high tide levels.

With water levels continuing to rise along the St. Johns River from Downtown Jacksonville to the Buckman Bridge, the mandatory evacuation ordered on Friday, Sept. 8, for zones A and B, low-lying/coastal areas, and mobile and manufactured homes remains.

Flood Dangers

  • If you discover flooding in your home, stay inside. Go up, not out.
  • Hang a white cloth outside the home to alert rescue teams you need assistance. 
  • Do not wade through or play in standing water.
  • Avoid contact with flood waters. Those with open cuts or sores face greater impact for infection. Basic hygiene is critical.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything that has been contaminated with flood waters.
  • If you come across a downed power line in Duval County, stay away and report to the 630-CITY team.

In Clay County,  the north and south prongs of Black Creek were at record flood stage at 26.5 feet as of 3:25 p.m. Monday and were expected to crest early Tuesday up to 28.5 feet, the county's spokeswoman said.
Various local, state and federal agencies were also engaged in water rescue efforts there, including but not limited to the State Fire Marshall, swift water rescue, Florida National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard.



Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP
Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.