CLAY COUNTY – The biggest lesson learned from Hurricane Ian in late September is that storms don’t always do what’s expected. That’s why the county didn’t take any chances as Tropical Storm …
CLAY COUNTY – The biggest lesson learned from Hurricane Ian in late September is that storms don’t always do what’s expected. That’s why the county didn’t take any chances as Tropical Storm Nicole approached.
Storm models originally had the storm entering the state near Vero Beach, turning north, then exiting near Jacksonville. A day later, one path has it entering between Melbourne and Daytona Beach, going through Orlando, turning north and entering Georgia east of Tallahassee.
But since the heaviest rain and wind are north and east of the storm – and tropical force conditions reach out nearly 400 miles from the center – residents need to be prepared.
Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 34 counties, including Clay. That will help residents with damage to quickly receive federal resources. The Keystone Heights City Council declared a state of emergency which gave City Manager Lynn Rutkowski the authority to order evacuations. As of Wednesday afternoon, however, none had been ordered.
The Clay County District Schools canceled classes on Thursday.
The county’s emergency management office went into a partial activation Wednesday. The Unified Command included Deputy Director of Emergency Management Mike Ladd, Clay County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Department Director Wayne McKinney and Clay County Fire Rescue Chief David Motes.
A Tropical Storm watch was issued for Clay County, along with flood watches,” Ladd said. “Surge effects are forecasted from Wednesday evening through Thursday of three to four feet above ground level along the St. Johns River and potential into Doctors Inlet.”
The prepare for possible flooding, the county opened four locations where residents can fill sandbags at the Eagle Harbor Soccer Complex at 4387 Lakeshore Dr. on Fleming Island, behind the CCSO Fleet Maintenance Facility at 25 Roderico Ave. in Green Cove Springs, Keystone Heights City Hall at 555 S. Lawrence Blvd. and the Orange Park Athletic Association Fields at 1086 Fromhart St.
Since Clay County is under a state of emergency, patients are allowed to refill any prescription, according to Ladd. He also stressed being vigilant.
“Make that plan. If you’ve got a plan, refine the plan,” he said. “Make sure everyone in the household knows what they are going to do. Keep gas cans full and make sure you have information conduits – the SaferWatch applications, and also the alert.claycountygov.com website.”
He also suggested residents visit NWS-Jax for up-to-date information.
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