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Jax Beach lifeguards, St. Augustine officials warn of flooding, choppy waters from nor’easter

St. Augustine flooding
Brendan Rivers
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ADAPT
Ocean waves

As a nor’easter approaches our region, a coastal flood warning has been issued for much of Northeast Florida through Sunday.

Rough seas and heavy rain are expected, and Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue Captain Rob Emahiser said, if you do find yourself on the beach, please stay out of the water.

“This late in the year, we don’t have any lifeguards on the beach and none of the beaches around here do,” he said. “Since there’s no one right nearby to rescue anyone that gets in trouble, we strongly advise everyone to stay out of the ocean during this time until the ocean calms down.”

Emahiser doesn’t expect conditions to settle until Monday at the earliest.

If there is an emergency at the beach, call 911 and a lifeguard will try to get there as quickly as possible.

“We only have a few lifeguards, so we can only patrol enough to be out there occasionally,” Emahiser explained. “It would be several minutes before we get to anyone. It could be a mile away or possibly more.”

Emahiser said this weekend’s nor’easter is expected to coincide with a king tide, potentially causing high tide to be as much as 2 feet higher than average. That could lead to significant flooding along the coast, as well as along the St. Johns River, St. Marys River and their tributaries.

In St. Augustine, officials are sounding the alarm for flood-prone areas, which they expect will experience higher-than-usual street flooding as early as Friday morning. In addition to street flooding, they expect overtopping of bulkheads, unusually high surf and tides, dangerous currents, and strong winds.

Water levels this weekend are expected to reach and could potentially exceed that which occurred during the September 2020 nor’easter.

During these conditions, the city would like to remind the public of several safety tips:

· Do not walk through flood waters as it can be dangerous and a health hazard.

· Do not drive through flooded areas, turn around and find another way.

· Driving through flooded waters can create waves, causing additional damage to surrounding landscape and property.

· Be careful around manhole covers, as they can become dislodged by the high tides.

Additionally, they encourage the public to use the city's Report Flooding tool to report flooding and clogged storm drains.

Areas of particular concern include but are not limited to: Lincolnville, Maria Sanchez Lake, South Davis Shores, the San Sebastian River Bridge at U.S. 1 and King Street, Abbott Tract, Fullerwood, the bayfront seawall by the Castillo de San Marcos, and Bridge Street between Cordova and Granada Streets.

The St. Augustine Public Works Department can be reached at 904-825-1040.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.