St. Augustine Offers Residents Free Elevated Garage Parking During Flooding

Sep 21, 2020

With flooding in St. Augustine due to rain, high tides and Hurricane Teddy in the Atlantic Ocean, the city is offering residents free parking at the multi-level Historic Downtown Park Facility Monday, Sept. 21, and Tuesday, Sept. 22.

"These high tides and localized flooding are above and beyond what we’ve seen in decades,” said City Manager John Regan in an email to WJCT News Monday.  “We want to help our residents and workers who have to park on the streets throughout the city and give them a place to safely park their cars to avoid damage to their personal property.”

Water from the Matanzas River rushes over the seawall at St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Credit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument / Via Facebook

The city was continuing to close roads in flood-prone areas Monday morning and urged motorists not to drive through water unless absolutely necessary.

The city is also asking drivers on flooded streets to proceed very slowly to avoid creating a wave that could cause property damage by pushing water into people’s homes or businesses.

The city said officials from police, public works, utility operations and the fire department are working around the clock to monitor the situation.

Flooding has been an ongoing problem for St. Augustine that is worsening with rising seas due to climate change.

“We know that by the year 2030, roughly, our city will have 90 days, or 1 in every 4 days, of nuisance flooding, covering 30 percent of our road network,” former St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver told WJCT News last year.

This 2019 file photo shows an example of the "nuisance flooding" that occurs in parts of St. Augustine's historic downtown area.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

One of the solutions the city has been pursuing to combat flooding is tide check valves. The valves allow stormwater to drain out under low-tide conditions, just like the city’s current drainage system, but during high tide these valves prevent ocean water from backing up into the stormwater pipe network.

At last report, more than 30 had been installed with plans to install more.

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