Morning Update from Fernandina Beach City Manager
By Dale Martin Fernandina Beach City Manager
As Hurricane Ian moves past Cuba, it is important to consider your preparation and response to the storm while time is still available. Please note that information about Hurricane Ian in this article is based upon the current data at the time of writing (6:00 a.m., Tuesday).
The northeast coast of Florida is currently under a Tropical Storm Watch. Although the National Hurricane Center (NHC) projects a landfall in the vicinity of Tampa early Thursday morning, the stronger winds associated with the storm will likely begin to be felt in our area Wednesday evening. The NHC probabilities show a 60-70% chance of winds of at least 40 mph.
With those high winds, secure outdoor furniture and equipment that could be susceptible to being propelled to create other damages or injuries. Construction sites are required to secure on-site material and dumpsters.
The NHC projections show that after making landfall, the storm will continue inland to the northeast before shifting to a northern track, likely passing to the west of Nassau County before moving into Georgia. This projected track makes our area vulnerable to storm surges and heavy rains. It is likely that we will have to deal more with the effects of water than the effects of wind.
Many areas of the city flood somewhat easily during otherwise heavy rains, other storms, or high tides. Expect flooding in those areas as well as other areas on the island as well as on the mainland. The county has revised evacuation zones, so please familiarize yourself with those new designations (ranging from A-K; see https://maps.nassauflpa.com/NassauTaxMap/#, click Map Layers [top menu bar], then Public Safety [left menu]). In general, the city evacuation zones are A, B, and C.
The projected storm surge is indicated as up to 6 feet. Given the combined effect of a storm surge with the usual high tides, it is likely that vehicles will be prohibited from accessing the beach parking area at Seaside Park (Sadler Road) during the storm, possibly as early as Thursday.
The bridges onto the island may be closed to traffic due to high winds (sustained winds of 40 mph or greater). County officials determine when such closures are necessary, and closures come withoout warning. Contrary to social media myths, the bridges are not closed at a specified planned time (and to debunk another social media myth – Florida Public Utilities does not intentionally turn off the power to the island).
For accurate information about the storm and emergency response activities, I encourage you to visit the County Emergency Management website (www.OneNassau.com) and social media outreach (Facebook: www.facebook.com/NassauEM; Twitter: www.twitter.com/NassauEM). Please use these sources for reliable information during this and any other emergency.
The city has declared a state of emergency. The principal reason for the state of emergency is to make the city eligible for costs associated with preparation and recovery should a formal disaster declaration be announced. City and county staff will prepare damage assessments to submit to state and federal officials to support, if appropriate, a disaster declaration.
During the storm and in its immediate aftermath, please refrain from venturing out to sightsee and gawk. City and county crews may be working to provide care and clear dangers where needed. Downed trees often mask tangled power lines. Flooding on roads may be deeper than apparent. If conditions warrant, the city, as part of its emergency powers, may declare a curfew. At this time, city operations are planned to continue throughout the storm.
We have been fortunate recently in having been minimally impacted by storms and hurricanes that have damaged or crippled other Florida communities. Please take the necessary precautions for your safety and the protection of your property.