St. Johns County emergency officials are asking residents living on barrier islands to be patient as there could likely be bridge closures while Hurricane Dorian makes it way northward.
St. John’s County Sheriff David Shoar said Monday once bridges close, residents won’t be able to go back until after the storm.
“The bridges will close when we make the decision by being out there. Because 60 mile an hour winds here, maybe 40 mile an hour on a bridge or 30 miles an hour. So we're going to make those subjective calls. And when we do, we will have to shut the bridges down because they're not safe to cross over because of conditions,” said Shoar.
Once the storm clears, residents will be allowed to return to their homes. But St. Johns County Administrator Michael Wanchick said it’s not going to be immediate, or within jut an hour of the storm passing.
“It'll look like it's safe to go back on the barrier islands. But until we get first responders on the islands to ensure there's no downed power lines, or any life threatening situations, we're not going to issue an all clear order and allow people back,” Wanchick.
Once first responders have deemed the islands safe they will get the word out as quickly as possible.
In St. Johns County, zones A and B are under mandatory evacuations and anyone living on waterfront property or in flood prone areas, Hastings and Flagler Estates.
The following shelters have been opened in St. Johns County:
• Pacetti Bay Middle School, 245 Meadowlark Ln. (Special needs)
• Timberlin Creek Elementary School, 555 Pine Tree Ln. (Pet-friendly)
• Southwoods Elementary, 4750 State Road 206. (Pet-friendly)
• Pedro Menendez High School, 600 State Road 206 West. (General population)
• Bartram Trail High School, 7399 Longleaf Pine Pkwy. (General population)
• Osceola Elementary, 1605 Osceola Elementary Rd. (General population)
Additional shelters will be opened if needed. The county also has a Emergency Operations Center Hotline that residents can call at 904-824-5550.
Jeffery Alexander, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for St. Johns County pointed out not everyone has an evacation zone. He said people frequently get flood zones and evacuation zones mixed up.
A flood zone has to do with flood insurance and can be found on FEMA's website. Evacuation zones, on the other hand, are used by local governments to tell residents to evacuation when they're threatened by storm surge from a specific hurricane.
Evacuation orders have also been issued for Duval, Nassau, Clay and Flagler Counties.