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Jacksonville Mayor: ‘No Time To Rest,’ Even With Hurricane Dorian’s Eastward Shift

JEA leaves a water pump about a block from the St. Johns River in San Marco. ANDREW GUSTAFSON/ SPECIAL TO WJCT NEWS
JEA leaves a water pump about a block from the St. Johns River in San Marco. ANDREW GUSTAFSON/ SPECIAL TO WJCT NEWS

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is warning against getting complacent as Hurricane Dorian on Tuesday morning is forecast to pass off shore slightly more eastward than before. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologists warn that track can still change, like Hurricane Matthew’s did in 2016, wobbling closer to the First Coast than projected.

The Jacksonville area remained under a tropical storm warning, hurricane watch and storm surge warning as of the 11 a.m. Tuesday advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Curry urged those living in mandatory evacuation zones A and B as well as low-lying areas and manufactured homes to leave.

“Please evacuate today. Get out now,” he said.

ALSO READ: Dorian Picking Up Speed As A Category 2 Along Florida Coast

Curry stressed Dorian is still a major storm with the potential for damage from tropical storm force winds, flooding from storm surge and rain along the coast and riverfront, and downed trees — similar to what people may have experienced during Matthew.

“I remember, not only the beaches communities, but I was in neighborhoods. I saw a tree land right in the middle of someone's house. And fortunately, that person had evacuated. So this is no time to rest and think that everything's going to be OK,” he said.

Tropical-storm force wind gusts and heavy rain are expected to arrive in Flagler and Volusia counties by sunrise Wednesday and in Jacksonville within hours of that as Hurricane Dorian approaches. Storm surge could be the biggest risk, with 4-to-7 feet expected at the beaches and possible flooding along the St. Johns River.

Curry asked those unwilling to evacuate to think of not only their own safety but the safety of first responders.

“People that stay behind in evacuation zones could be potentially asking people that work for the city's fire and rescue, police, JEA, public works, to put their lives in danger because someone decided not to leave,” he said.

WEATHER: Storm track, hourly outlooks, 7-day forecasts and weather alerts

Once sustained tropical storm force winds of at least 40 mph arrive in the area, bridges will be closed, and once bridges are closed they won’t reopen until the storm passes.

Sheriff Mike Williams said the timing is impossible to know for sure.

“We anticipate that at some point in time overnight tonight,” Williams said. “We do not have a time, and again, it’s based on wind speed on that particular bridge.”

ALERTS: Download the Florida Storms app to get severe weather notifications

And good news for those planning to get on the road Tuesday: Williams said traffic has been light and shouldn’t be a deterrent to evacuating.

Curry said today is residents’ last day to evacuate. The city has 12 open shelters. As of Tuesday morning 360 evacuees had taken advantage of them.

Lindsey Kilbride joined WJCT News in 2015 after completing the radio documentary program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.