Mayor Urges Storm Caution; Duval Summer School, Camps Closed Wednesday

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Western Duval County is under a Tropical Storm Watch as the city prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa.

Because of the storm, the city is closing all city-operated summer camps and pools on Wednesday, July 7, Curry said. Duval County Public Schools is also closing its summer camps and summer school programs that day. 

Curry said Jacksonville is projected to begin seeing rain and wind from the storm late Tuesday night, with conditions worsening overnight and continuing through Wednesday. He said the city does not expect widespread damage, but there is  a chance of flash flooding, strong winds, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

“If you encounter flooded streets while driving, turn around. Do not drive into high water,” Curry said. 

The Sulzbacher Center, a Jacksonville homeless shelter, is opening its doors to homeless people looking to escape the storm on Tuesday and Wednesday. The shelter is located at  611 E. Adams St.

Mission House is opening an emergency shelter at the Beaches Boys and Girls Club on Seagate Avenue.

The Jacksonville Beach charity is looking for volunteers to work the emergency shelter from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Thursday. Those interested in volunteering can call Leslie at (904) 241-6767 or sign up here.

Mission House is also asking for donations of things like sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, water bottles and pre-packaged snacks.

Jacksonville University has announced it will switch to a remote schedule for students and faculty Wednesday, while Clay County is offering sandbags to residents Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. at Omega Park, located at  4317 C.R. 218, Middleburg 32068.

The Navy announced the USS Wichita's return to its Naval Station Mayport homeport is being delayed because of Elsa. It was originally due to return Wednesday. A new return schedule will be announced once the storm passes.

The Coast Guard said Jacksonville's port remains open to traffic but advised recreational boaters to seek safe harbor.

LifeSouth is asking people to give blood ahead of the storm, saying the local and national blood supply was already strained.

LifeSouth operates two donor centers in Jacksonville, located at 7840 Baymeadows Way and 800 Prudential Dr. (inside Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville). Additionally, the nonprofit community blood bank hosts blood drives daily throughout the region. Donors can find donation locations and hours at lifesouth.org.

Glynn County, Ga., has announced the following closures for Wednesday: all Glynn County Public Schools, Jekyll Island outdoor activities, Glynn County public pools, and Glynn County Magistrate Court- Citation court.  At the time of this story's publication, Glynn County and city of Brunswick offices were expected to remain open Wednesday.

While Jacksonville has not opened emergency shelters or issued any evacuation orders, Curry encouraged residents to prepare for the storm and use city emergency information resources, like JaxReady.com.

“I'm asking everyone to have a plan. Know your evacuation zone and make sure you have a storm kit,” Curry said.

Tristan Wood can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @TristanDWood.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews.