Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Matthew’s expected approach. He is urging all residents of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach, as well as all residents who live in evacuation zones A and B, to evacuate as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, other Northeast Florida residents are preparing to stay home during a potential direct hit.
Throughout Wednesday morning, cars streamed into the Atlantic Beach Public Works building parking lot to shovel sand into bags and load up their car trunks.
Jeff Selhorst was filling bags to shore up the Montessori preschool where he works.
“We have a low-lying area that tends to flood in heavy rains, and I think we’re going to get some heavy rains,” he said as he shoveled sand.
In Jacksonville’s beach communities, long lines stretched from gas stations, with some of them sold out of everything but premium gasoline.
Nearby, 62-year-old Jacksonville native Robin Langford was stocking up on groceries at Winn-Dixie.
“I was buying enough groceries to get through the next three or four days to where I can cook on the grill if I have to because I lived here when Dora hit, and it wasn’t very pretty to go without electricity, she said.
Wednesday afternoon, Carter Insurance Agency owner K.C. Carter was boarding up her storefront on University Boulevard.
“I have files to protect,” she said, “and I encourage all my clients in the city of Jacksonville to take heed. This is coming straight at us,” she said. It’s the first time in the 22 years she’s been in business she has boarded up her entire business, she said.
The National Hurricane Center is still clarifying potential impacts of Hurricane Matthew as it’s expected to strengthen and turn slightly westward toward the East Coast of Florida. The worst effects could be felt in the Jacksonville area midday Friday and overnight into Saturday, according to Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist Jeff Huffman.