Hurricane Matthew is slowly approaching the state of Florida, and many on the coast are preparing for the worst.
Already a Category 4 hurricane, Matthew comes just a month after Florida was hit by Hurricane Hermine. Many people affected by the storm have not even fully adjusted yet. Some are still without homes and belongings, and yet they must prepare for another.
St. Johns County and many of the towns in and around St. Augustine have been advised to evacuate.
“Right now, what we’re asking people to do is, if they have [a] plan and they are able to leave the coastal areas of St. Johns County, we encourage them to leave today,” said Director of Emergency Management Linda Stoughton, Wednesday. “Because [Thursday] morning at 6 a.m. will be the mandatory evacuation for the coastal areas.”
Should residents choose to stay, they may not be provided the help that they might need during the storm.
“At a certain point we will have to pull emergency services from the East side of the intracoastal waterway for their protection — relocate those resources to a safer area,” Stoughton said.
Stoughton also said anyone who needs transportation to one of the shelter locations should call the St. Johns Emergency Operations Center at 904-824-5550. They will be able to provide transportation to people and get them to whichever shelter they need to go, whether it be for the disabled, pet-friendly or for the general population.
For residents that are trying to prepare for the storm, Stoughton encourages people to check all “big box” stores and smaller stores to see what supplies they have on hand. With the hurricane looming many are expected to be running low.
“There’s no water! But there’s no water anywhere,” said Christy Paul, a shopper at Publix Supermarket and a St. Johns County resident. “I went and got gas this morning and there was a lot of traffic getting through the gas station, so I think everybody’s getting ready and prepared. They’re going to take it seriously which I think is wise.”
“Water seems to be missing,” said Elizabeth Granit, another shopper outside of Publix Supermarket and a resident of St. Augustine. “Only the flavored and sparkling water was left, and hopefully they get another shipment tonight.”
Until the storm hits, Stoughton and the Emergency Operations Center encourage all residents to continue getting prepared.
“We encourage people to take this seriously. This is a risk to St. Johns County.”