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St. Johns County mops up after Tropical Storm Ian

St. Augustine.JPG
News4Jax
Water breaches the seawall near Downtown St. Augustine.

St. Johns County was assessing damage Friday after Tropical Storm Ian inundated the county with flooding.

Numerous trees and powerlines were down, and flooding continued throughout the county, a day after Tropical Storm Ian pushed water past the sea wall in St. Augustine and flooded State Road A1A near the Bridge of Lions.

Significant flooding also hit St. Hastings, Flagler Estates and other low-lying areas, comparable to what the region experienced during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, said County Administrator Hunter Conrad.

St. Johns County recorded sustained winds of 35 to 50 mph with higher gusts. More than 300 people were rescued Thursday, said St. Johns County Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Prevatt.

The county lifted its evacuation order Friday morning but cautioned residents that some roads may be impassable or restricted by emergency services.

Crews were removing debris as quickly as possible, but the process will take some time, the county said.

Several services were available to people affected by the storm:

Yard debris
The county opened the Stratton Road and Tillman Ridge transfer stations for household and yard debris for those cleaning up after the storm. This service is free of charge for residents.

  • Stratton Road Transfer Station — 250 N. Stratton Rd., St. Augustine.
  • Tillman Ridge Transfer Station — 3005 Allen Nease Rd., Elkton.

Residents using the service are asked to separate trash from vegetation. For updates on recovery efforts in St. Johns County, go to sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management Citizen Information Line at 904.824.5550.

Garbage collection
The county said it will conduct a make-up garbage collection on Saturday for residents originally scheduled on Thursday and Friday. No recycling, yard waste or storm debris will be collected. Normal collection schedules will resume Monday.

Shelter
The county opened the Solomon Calhoun Community Center, 1300 Duval St., as a shelter for those who are unable to return to their homes. All other shelters were closed.

Water distribution
The county scheduled four distribution sites for people to receive water. The locations will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Water distribution will be limited to two cases of water per car.

  • St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340C A1A S, St. Augustine.
  • Solomon Calhoun Community Center, 1300 Duval St., St. Augustine.
  • Flagler Estates Community Center, 9960 Oliver Ave., Hastings.
  • Al Wilke Park, 6150 South Main St., Hastings.

Volunteers
Residents needing assistance with damage can call the Home Cleanup Hotline at 800-451-1954 to be connected with volunteers from local relief organizations, community groups and faith communities. Those groups may be able to assist with cutting fallen trees; removing drywall, flooring and appliances; tarping roofs; and mitigating mold.

That service is free but not guaranteed due to overwhelming need. In addition, the hotline cannot assist with social services such as food, clothing, shelter, insurance or questions about FEMA registration. This hotline will remain open through Oct. 28.

For information on volunteer opportunities, go to volunteerflorida.org.

Water consumption
The city of St. Augustine cautioned residents Friday afternoon to discharge as little water as possible to reduce the amount of wastewater entering the system from all sources such as showers, toilets, washing machines and kitchen sinks.

Residents should limit showers; delay laundry use or wash only essential items; refrain from running water while brushing teeth, shaving or rinsing dishes; and minimize the number of toilet flushes, the city said.

Having water service does not mean sewer service is functioning normally. Toilets may flush sluggishly or there may be no visible signs at all until there is a backup.

Until power is restored to all pump stations, wastewater will not be pumped causing the collection system to fill beyond capacity and wastewater may back up into your building, the city said.

City crews were continuing to work with bypass pumps and generators to restore all pump stations to full service.

Meanwhile, the St. Augustine Planning and Building Department was conducting door-to-door assessments to catalogue property damage to homes and businesses as the first step in securing state and federal disaster relief funds.

The assessment is not an inspection of structures, but rather an overview of the extent of damage and to identify the location of visibly damaged structures.

As the city continues with the process, officials suggested these steps for property owners:

For questions about the building assessment process contact Richard “Buddy” Schauland at 904.209.4327 or send an email to planningandbuilding@citystaug.com with the subject “Hurricane Ian Assessment.”

St. Johns County residents or business owners who have storm-related structural damage from Hurricane Ian or permitting questions can call the St. Johns County Building Services Structural Hotline at 904.827.6836.

In the city of St. Augustine, residents and business owners should call 904.209.4327.

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at rroguski@wjct.org or on Twitter, @rroguski.